Charleston shooting victims include "brilliant" pastor, recent college grad

A high school coach, a librarian and two graduates from the same university were among the nine victims of a shooting massacre at a historic black church in downtown Charleston.

State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church's pastor and a graduate of Allen University in Columbia, S.C., was among those killed.

State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41, pastor of the Emanuel AME Church, was among the victims of the shooting that took 9 lives there on June 17, 2015
State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41, pastor of the Emanuel AME Church, was among the victims of the shooting that took 9 lives there on June 17, 2015 CBS News

"A very energetic, promising, very active pastor and political leader in our state, which had a bright future," Reverend Dr. Norvel Goff said Thursday on "CBS This Morning."

Pinckney, a magna cum laude graduate of Allen University, was a married father of two. In 1997, he was elected to the State House of Representatives at age 23, making him the youngest African-American legislator in South Carolina history.

"He never had anything bad to say about anybody, even when I thought he should," State House Minority leader Todd Rutherford told the Associated Press. "He was always out doing work either for his parishioners or his constituents. He touched everybody."

South Carolina Rep. Alan D. Clemmons, who worked with Pincknet over the past 13 years, expressed his shock and grief over his friend's death.

"His loss shakes me and I'm confused and angered and upset that we've lost a true son of South Carolina," he said.


Tywanza Sanders

Another Allen University alumnus was also among the victims. In a statement to CBS News, the school's president, Lady June Cole, said that 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders, a 2014 graduate in business administration, was also killed.

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Tywanza Sanders Allen University

"He was a quiet, well-known student who was committed to his education," Cole said. "He presented a warm and helpful spirit as he interacted with his colleagues. Mr. Sanders was participating in the Bible Study session at Mother Emanuel church at the time of the shooting."

Sanders reportedly worked at Smitty's Super Seven Barber in Charleston."I've been up all night," Michele Gray said of learning her best friend, Tywanza Sanders, was killed in the deadly rampage. "My brother called me and it was shock, disbelief. I was like 'you're lying. This cannot happen to us, cannot happen to his family'. I'm at a loss for words to even explain how I feel."

On his Instagram account Sanders described himself as a businessman, college grad, poet, artist and barber. He added in his profile that he is living life where God takes him.



Cynthia Hurd

Meanwhile, officials with the Charleston County Public Library announced that Cynthia Hurd, a branch manager at one of its locations, was also killed in the shooting.

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Cynthia Hurd Charleston County Public Library

Hurd, 54, worked with the library for 31 years, working most recently as manager of the St. Andrews Regional Library, according to a statement from the library.

"Her loss is incomprehensible, and we ask for prayers for her family, her co-workers, her church and this entire community as we come together to face this tragic loss," the library said.

WSOC-TV reports, Hurd was the sister of former North Carolina Sen. Malcolm Graham. He released the following statement on his sisters death:

"My sister, Ms. Cynthia Marie Graham-Hurd, was a victim of the senseless hate crime at Emanuel AME Church. It is unimaginable that she would walk into church and not return. But that's who she was - a woman of faith. This is a very difficult time for our family, and Cynthia will be sorely missed. Our family is close-knit, and our faith will see us through. I also extend condolences to the other families of Emanuel AME Church and the city of Charleston who have been affected by this inconceivable tragedy.

"My family and I appreciate the thoughts and prayers from people across North Carolina and South Carolina."


Sharonda Singleton

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Sharonda Coleman-Singleton WCSC

Sharonda Singleton, was the head coach of the girls' track and field and a speech/ language pathologist at Goose Creek High School.

"When she came to games, you knew she was there," said Goose Creek Principal Jimmy Huskey to the Charleston Post and Courier. "She was going to be yelling and screaming for the Gators, and she loved Goose Creek High School."

Reflecting on Mrs. Singleton, Huskey added, "Mrs. Singleton was a true professional at Goose Creek High School. She cared about her students and was an advocate for them, always willing to listen to and talk with them. She was always there with a smile and ready to help. Mrs. Singleton will be deeply missed by the 'Gator Nation' and we can never replace her as a member of our team."

The Berkeley County School District released a statement on Singleton's death, which reads in part: "Sharonda Singleton, a speech/language pathologist and the head girls' track coach at Goose Creek High School, who touched the lives of students and colleagues alike, leaves a void that is impossible to fill."

She was the mother of three children. According to the Post and Courier, her oldest son, Chris Singleton, is a Charleston Southern sophomore baseball player.

"She loved baseball and loved Chris," Goose Creek baseball coach Chris Pond said. "She loved everyone and always had a positive attitude about everything."

On Thursday, Chris Singleton stood in front of cameras at the Charleston Southern baseball field to speak about his mother.

"We are mourning right now, but I know we will get through it," he said. "My mom was a God fearing woman. She loved everybody with all her heart."

"Love is always stronger than hate," he added.


Rev. Daniel Simmons

Simmons was a well-known fixture in the South Carolina AME community and had served as pastor of several Charleston-area churches before retiring.

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Rev. Daniel Simmons WCSC

A parishioner at the Greater Zion AME Church in Awendaw, where Simmons served as pastor from 2004-2009, remembered him as a talented teacher and compassionate leader.

"He was a by-the-book person," said church officer and financial secretary Patricia Brown. "He said the only way you really stay out of trouble is if you go by the rules."

At Greater Zion, Brown said the 74-year-old grandfather led weekly bible studies and helped the church establish a housing ministry and a hot meal program for those in need.

She said her church is planning a memorial service for Simmons on Sunday.

"I think the whole state's in shock, and we're in shock here as well," Brown said. "It's just a very sad thing."


Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor

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Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor WCSC

Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor was admissions coordinator at Southern Wesleyan University's Charleston learning center. She began work this past December at SWU's Charleston learning center. She received her BA in biology and life sciences from Columbia College and was a SWU alumna, having received her master's in management from SWU in 1994, according to a press release from Southern Wesleyan University.

Southern Weleyan University sent a press release regarding her death: "As the world mourns for the nine victims in the wake of the June 17 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, Southern Wesleyan University is mourning the loss of an employee and alumna. DePayne Doctor, admissions coordinator at Southern Wesleyan University's Charleston learning center, was in historic Emmanuel AME Church and was among the shooting victims."

President Todd Voss was shocked to hear this news.

"Always a warm and enthusiastic leader, DePayne truly believed in the mission of SWU to help students achieve their potential by connecting faith with learning," Voss said "Our prayers go out to family and friends. This is a great loss for our students and the Charleston region."


Susan Jackson

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Susan Jackson WCSC

Susan Jackson, 87, was a longtime church member and sang in the choir. Jackson had recently visited her son and grandchildren in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tim Jackson told Cleveland television station WEWS that his grandmother was a loving, giving woman with a great smile.

"It's just hard to process that my grandmother had to leave Earth this way," he said. "It's real, real hard. It's challenging because I don't believe she deserved to go this way."

He described his grandmother to Cleveland.com as a kind woman who always opened her home to friends and family.

"It really hit me last night. It kind of hit my dad hard, because he's an only child, so we're trying to be there for him," he said. "My mom, she's dealing with it real hard today. I don't think it's going to hit me hard again until we travel to South Carolina."

Susie Jackson, who was fond of playing slot machines, was scheduled to go on a church-sponsored bus trip to Chicago on Sunday and was looking forward to going to the top of the Willis Tower, said Jean Jackson, an associate member of the church.


Ethel Lance

Ethel Lance, 70, was a Charleston native who had been a member of the church for most of her life. She and Susan Jackson were cousins. She retired after working for more than 30 years on the housekeeping staff at the city's Gaillard Auditorium.

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Ethel Lance WCSC

She had served as a sexton at the church for the last five years, helping to keep the historic building clean. She was also a lover of gospel music. "She was a God-fearing woman," said granddaughter Najee Washington, 23, who lived with Lance. "She was the heart of the family, and she still is. She is a very caring, giving and loving woman. She was beautiful inside and out."

Lance had five children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.


Myra Thompson

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said Thursday the other victim was Myra Thompson, 59. In a Facebook post Thursday, Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America wrote, "Please join me in praying for the Rev. Anthony Thompson, Vicar of Holy Trinity REC (ACNA) Church in Charleston, his family, and their congregation, with the killing of his wife, Myra, in the Charleston shootings last night."

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Myra Thompson WSPA

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., released a statement expressing their condolences, stating Thompson was a member of the 102-year-old organization. According to the press release, she was a member of the Charleston Alumnae Chapter and was initiated into the Sorority through the Gamma Upsilon Chapter at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. in 1977. She was a Diamond Life Member. The statement said her daughter, Denise Quarles, and sister, Eunice Coakley-Gupton, are also members.