Community honors victims three years after Charleston church shooting

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former North Carolina Sen. Malcolm Graham misses his sister every day.

Cynthia Hurd, Graham's sister, and eight other parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston died when white supremacist Dylann Roof entered their Bible study and opened fire.

On Sunday, the day of the third anniversary of the shooting, the congregation and community gathered to celebrate the lives of those who were killed.

“We celebrated how they lived, their contributions to their community, to the city of Charleston, as well as to their family and loved ones,” Graham said. “The atmosphere in the church was electric in terms of being in a worship service, worshipping and remembering those that we lost.”

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said the emotional service focused on supporting each other through their pain.

“Even though we experience this tragedy, there was uplifting that came out of it, compassion and love and the example that would show those that want to perpetrate violence that that is not the answer,” Tecklenburg said.


While Graham moves forward, focused on happy thoughts of his sister, he's concerned about the future of the country.

“I'm worried about our nation though. In the three years since Charleston, there have been eight other mass shootings,” Graham said.

Graham believes tougher gun laws are needed to stop violence that continues to tear through communities.

The day after the mass shooting, Roof, who is appealing his death sentence, took back roads through Charlotte and was eventually arrested while driving in Shelby.