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Family Mourns Newark Native Killed In Charleston Church Massacre

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- One of the nine victims of the massacre at a Charleston, South Carolina church this week was a New Jersey native.

Sharonda Coleman Singleton, 45, was a mother of three and an assistant pastor at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. She grew up in Newark.

Her family told CBS2's Christine Sloan on Friday that Singleton was perfect in every way – inside and out.

"She was love. She was love," said Singleton's sister, Jacqueline Askew. "She still is love."

"There was no such thing as a light switch - no off and on," said her brother, retired correction officer Mark Jones Sr. "She was brightest bulb in the room. She would always make you feel, when she spoke to you, you always felt special."

Brother Of SC Shooting Victim From Newark Mourns Loss

Singleton was one of nine people shot and killed in the South Carolina church. Her brothers and sisters never imagined their beloved Sharonda would be gunned down during Bible study.

"Till this day, if my sister were alive, the first thing she would say was that he was 'just a troubled soul that needed to be healed,'" Jones said.

Singleton coached girls' track, and worked as a speech pathologist at a school outside Charleston.

"She loved the kids. She would do anything for them within her means," Askew said. "Very devoted – start a task, finished at ask – she just had a beautiful spirit."

A star athlete herself, Singleton attended Montclair State and Southeastern University. But she always came back to Newark and constantly called home.

Jones thought perhaps by moving south and becoming a speech therapist and reverend, that she had escaped the city's violence.

"Down there I would think it's a better life and a living," he said.

As 1010 WINS' Steve Kastenbaum reported, Singleton's son, Chris, was stoic as he talked about his mother.

"I just think about her smile. She smiles 24-7," he said. "That's what I'm just thinking about to push me on and do stuff like this."

Surrounded by his teammates on the baseball field at Charleston Southern University, Chris reacted to the news that the shooter allegedly wanted to start a race war.

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

Jones told WCBS 880's Jim Smith he had a seemingly routine call with Singleton two weeks ago.

"Every now and then she would call and said 'I'm just checking up on you, love you, love you and the wife and kids.' She was that type of person," Jones said.

Family members said she always ended her conversations with the words, "I love you."

"Now I think I'm going to make that my practice," Jones said. "When I hang up, or before we hang up, I've got to end with, 'I love you,' because you never know –- it could be the last 'I love you.'"

CBS NEWS: More About The Victims

Meanwhile, the younger brother of Cynthia Hurd, who was a lifelong member of the church and librarian in Charleston of more than three decades, said she was the backbone of their family, CBS2's Janelle Burrell reported.

"Anytime that you can't go in the house of God and worship in peace, there's a problem with the morality of our country," he said.

Charleston Church Shooting Victims' Relatives Remember Loved Ones

The youngest victim, 26-year-old Sanders, reportedly tried to save his 87-year-old aunt's life by jumping in front of her.

His friend A.J. Harley said he isn't surprised.

"That's exactly like the guy that we know," he said, adding that protecting a family member is exactly what Sanders would do.

Also killed in the massacre were the church's lead pastor, 41-year-old state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; and the reverends DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74.

Alleged gunman Dylann Storm Roof was charged Friday with nine counts of murder and one of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

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