Local churches organizing vigils for Charleston shooting victims

Dozens gather for a candlelight vigil in Washington, North Carolina to mourn the Charleston church shooting victims.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Local churches are organizing vigils for the nine victims of the Charleston Emanuel AME Church shooting on Thursday night.

Pastor Rodney Coles with the Churches Outreach Network in Greenville went to the city Thursday morning. He’s working with other leaders from across the country to organize peaceful prayer vigils and remembrance ceremonies.

“They’re trying to keep everything more calm and not trying to be outraged of what’s really taking place in some of the surrounding areas,” Pastor Rodney Coles said. “But there’s a lot of hurt, there’s a lot of people crying, and a lot of flowers.”

Dozens gathered at the Metropolitan AME Zion Church in Washington to hold a candlelight vigil.

“As I listened to the prayer, I thought about every family member who had lost a loved one through this tragic situation and thought about how i would feel if that happened to my family,” Pastor Paula McCullough said. “The only thing that we can do with our children is teach our children to be kind.”

Police took the suspect, 21-year-old Dylan Roof, into custody just before noon Thursday in Shelby, North Carolina. He’s believed to have killed 9 people in the historical Emanual AME Church in Charleston Wednesday night.

Six of those people were women, three were men; one of which was South Carolina senator Reverend Clementa Pinckney.

President Obama says he knew Senator Pinckney and expressed anger that he died in a type of mass violence not seen in other advanced countries.

“Once again, innocent people were killed, in part, because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” said President Obama.

The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime.

Another vigil will be this Friday at 7 p.m. at the New Dimensions Community Church in Greenville on 6th Street.

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