Church bells are ringing throughout Charleston in remembrance of nine people who were slain during a Bible study in what has been called a racially motivated attack.
The ringing bells were part of a loosely organized movement to honor the victims Sunday. To some, Charleston is known as the “Holy City” because of the numerous churches throughout downtown.
As the bells rang, people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church held their first worship service since the massacre.
Authorities say 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire during the Bible study on Wednesday night. Slain were Emanuel’s pastor, as well as others involved in the community and church.
The historic black church Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal has started its first worship service since nine of its members, including its pastor, were gunned down during a Bible study.
The church was filled for the service Sunday morning. Uniformed police officers are posted on both levels of the sanctuary.
The service began with prayer and songs.
Authorities say a young white man, Dylann Roof, opened fired at the church on Wednesday night in a racially motivated attack. He was arrested a day later.
He had a bond hearing on Friday. Some victims’ families spoke to him then, offering him forgiveness and mercy.
The mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, says people in his town are telling him they can’t stop crying about the church shootings.
Joseph Riley says the grief and mourning is so widespread in his city that he can only compare it to the feeling of loss people had when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
The mayor says “my heart is broken” by the actions of what he calls “an evil man with his bigoted mind.”
Riley says he’s touched by the outpouring of support for the victims’ families — a private citizen handed him a $10,000 check on Sunday morning — and he says the NFL’s Carolina Panthers have contributed $100,000.
Riley was interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union” — one of the several news shows he appeared on before church services.
He also called for action on guns and race relations.
“If we in America can’t use this as a reason to address these issues, then you know, we’re not doing a very good job.”
Members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church are being let in through a side door, presumably so they can have Sunday school.
The main service will start at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and will be the first time the congregation has worshipped at the historic black church known as the “Mother.” Police say a 21-year-old white man opened fire at the end of a Bible study on Wednesday, killing nine people in a racially motivated church.
The suspect, Dylann Roof, is being held in jail on nine counts of murder and a weapons charge.
Outside the church, people are lining up to attend the service.
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