The South Carolina state senator and prominent pastor Reverend Clementa Pinckney is feared dead in the mass shooting at an historic church in Charleston.
Police have declined to confirm the identity of any of the nine people who have died after gunfire broke out during a prayer meeting at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
But according to the civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, the pastor of the church Rev Pinckney was present at the meeting and among those killed, and Fox News quoted a South Carolina legislator as confirming the pastor was among the dead.
Todd Rutherford, the House minority leader in South Carolina, said Rev Pinckney and eight others had been killed in the attack, with police still searching for an unidentified white gunman.
“It is a devastating loss and that’s putting it mildly,” Reverend Joseph Darby, the presiding elder at Beaufort AME Church, told MSNBC. “He was an advocate for the people, he was a very caring and competent pastor, and he was a very brave man. Brave men sometimes die difficult deaths. He would’ve wanted to go out serving the people, it’s unfortunate that he’s gone.”
Rev Pinckney, 41, was the youngest African American ever elected to the South Carolina state legislature when he was made a representative in 1996, at the age of 23.
In pictures: Charleston vigil
In pictures: Charleston vigil
1/6 Charleston vigil
Sunlight shines through a window and onto some of the thousands of people gathered for a city-sponsored prayer vigil for the nine victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting
2/6 Charleston vigil
People attend a vigil at TD Arena for victims of the Charleston church shooting
3/6 Charleston vigil
A view of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina
4/6 Charleston vigil
People attend a prayer vigil at the TD Aren
5/6 Charleston vigil
Family members of the nine victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting sit on the first five rows during a prayer vigil at the College of Charleston TD Arena
6/6 Charleston vigil
NBA Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (C) joins thousands of people for a prayer vigil for the nine victims
He was named by Ebony Magazine as one of the African American community’s 30 leaders of the future, and elected to the state senate in 2000.
Coming from a family of pastors, Rev Pinckney reportedly started preaching at the age of 13. He was named a pastor at 18, and was appointed to Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2010.
According to local media reports from the time, Rev Pinckney attended a vigil in North Charleston in the aftermath of the shooting of Walter Scott, where he was joined by Rev Sharpton.
Rev Pinckney led calls for mandatory police body cameras, and rallied the public to show their support.
"I think that if my colleagues will be moved by the fact that other people are moved by the need for body cameras, and also that there will be persons that will give testimony as to why body cameras are important,” he said.
“Body cameras help to record what happens. It may not be the golden ticket, the golden egg, the end-all-fix-all, but it helps to paint a picture of what happens during a police stop."Reuse content