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UPDATE: Officials, former classmates mourn death of Sen. Pinckney

The shooting death in Charleston of Sen. Clementa Pinckney (D-Ridgeland) has stunned the community and those throughout the state. Many people have expressed condolences. We’ll have updates throughout the day:

  • Ridgeland mayor Joey Malphrus: “It’s such a tragedy.He was such a great speaker, with a strong, powerful voice.”
  •  Duffie Stone, 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office: “I had the privilege of working with Sen. Clementa Pinckney over the last several years, particularly in the area of public safety for the poorer counties that we shared throughout the Fourteenth Circuit. He was always thoughtful, caring and focused on what was best for the people of our state. He was a true gentleman. South Carolina has lost a great leader and a great friend."
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  • State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton: “Clem was a longtime public servant, and I consider him a friend. The two of us sometimes probably butted heads more than anyone else, but at the end of the day when we punched out, we could always consider each other friends. And I’ll always have that in mind.”
  • Damon Jeter, a lobbyist and Richland County Councilman, said the killing of Pinckney felt like a modern day assassination, similar to Martin Luther King, Jr., given how many people the senator from Jasper County had reached: “You respected him so much, but he did not require it. “Even if the (Senate chamber) bell was ringing, and if you said, ‘Senator Pinckney,’ he would stop in his tracks and listen to you.”
  • Sen. Larry Martin, a Pickens County Republican, choked on the Senate floor as he spoke of his slain colleague, calling it a privilege to have served with Pinckney: “I thought back to the words of a great preacher, which we’ve all known Clem to be, that we don’t know what the future holds. But we know who holds the future. Clem claimed that promise. He lived that promise out.”
  • Edward Darien graduated with Pinckney from Jasper County High School in 1991. He was in the high school choir with Pinckney and always believed Pinckney would be a leader. “He was very intelligent and he had a great sense of humor. From being around him, you always knew he was going to be somebody.”
  • Sheree Darien: "Well done are the words that immediately flood my mind when I think of Senator Pinckney. His very life and legacy inspires me to continue to serve both the community and the church at large. All is as it should be!!! The recent events has undeniably taken us all by incomprehensible surprise, yet this is not a surprise to God. Rest in peace my friend. We are all so very proud of you." 

  •  Kathleen Wilson, Hardeeville resident and Pinckney’s teacher at Ridgeland Middle School in 1982-83: “He was one of my best students. His mother was such a gracious and helpful supporter of education. Her support made such a difference in helping me help him. I told him he could be anything he wanted to be.”

  • Roslyn Warren was also a 1991 Jasper County High School classmate: "“To me he's considered one of the heroes of our county. He’s one who stood out. He will always be a hero."
  • Marty Sauls, Jasper County Council: "I can tell you, I’m at a loss for words. He grew up here, part of our community, not only a well respected political leader, pastor, word of god, if you can’t be safe in the house of the lord where can you be safe?  He was a well-respected community and state leader, we are so proud to have our state senator in Columbia working for Jasper County and pastor working in church.He was very motivated, always enthusiastic, eager to help, dependable, every where you went he had a smile on his face, he knew your name, took time to shake your hand, he always asked how you were, how your family was doing, he took time to help. He was a local boy that grew up in Ridgeland, his family is from here, he was a kind hearted person that truly cared about people."
  • Jasper Legislative Delegation Officer Helen Pittman: “We are greatly saddened for all families involved. “We are praying and hoping that calm heads will prevail. This is a huge loss for Jasper County. This is our resident senator and he has the majority representation over our citizens. But not only was this a loss for Jasper County, Sen.Pinckney was a true statesman and this is a loss for the entire state.”
  • Renty Kitty, Kitty, reverend at St. Luke's Baptist Church in Ridgeland: "He was willing to give his life to serve others. He dedicated his life to serving mankind."

  • Jasper County Sheriff Greg Jenkins: "Sen. Pinckney was a very humble man, but very assertive. He was very concerned about the people he served."

  • Charles Mitchell, Founder of the Concerned Citizens of Jasper County: "After seeing it on the news, it destroyed me because I had just talked to him a couple months ago when we had the  Senator for a Day competition at the USCB campus. I talked to him, he was very impressed with young people, and after telling him about what I was doing in the community he told me to keep doing what I was doing. If I ever needed to call him, he gave me his cell phone number, he said even if it was legislation, to give him a call. It didn’t matter if he voted for or against it. He always made me feel like he was right here in Ridgeland even though he works in Columbia. He just inspired me so much to continue to excel."

  • Scott T. Price, Executive Director-elect of the S.C. School Boards Association: “The entire education community is deeply saddened over the extremely horrendous death of Senator Pinckney and all of the victims in the Emanuel AME Church shooting on Wednesday. “Senator Pinckney was a true champion for public education who worked tirelessly to advocate not only for the students in the districts he served but for all of South Carolina’s students. We pray for his family and everyone affected by this senseless crime.”
  • Willa Jennings, Chairperson, Allendale County Democratic Party: “This horrible event that led to the Senator’s death is a devastating tragedy for all of Senate District No. 45 and the state of South Carolina. The Senator’s untimely death will be a great loss for our region and indeed for the entire state."
  • S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas: “As a loving father, husband and dedicated public servant, Clementa Pinckney was a man of honor and sought to make a difference in the lives of others. Having served with him for a short time in the South Carolina House and continuing our friendship after his move to the Senate, Clementa held firm to his convictions and his integrity was a direct reflection of the love he shared for Christ.  Senator Pinckney’s calming presence will be missed in Columbia and across South Carolina, but I am certain his legacy will live on. Tracy and I extend our thoughts and heartfelt prayers to Clementa’s family, the victims and their families of this act of violence, the Emanuel AME congregation and the Charleston community as we begin to heal from this senseless tragedy.”

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