The head of St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Cambridge says his church community has been struck hard by the news of a shooting that killed nine people at an African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Pastor Ellis Washington says he was in a state of disbelief when he heard the news. [It’s]“Very gut wrenching news, not only because it’s a sister church, but just certainly it’s one of those things you don’t expect to happen in a place that you think is safe.”

Washington says members of his church feel the tragedy in their sister church closely. “Our church sort of evolved out of a desire to be able to worship and be able to worship with dignity and not have that touched by any kind of bigotry or anything like that. So there’s a sense of shared struggle that goes along with that.”

News of the shooting dominated Thursday’s news.

Police captured 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof of Eastover, S.C. shortly after 11A.M. Thursday. Roof was taken into police custody without incident following a 14-hour, overnight manhunt that included state and federal law enforcement. Police apprehended Roof at a traffic stop in Shelby North Carolina — almost 200 miles northwest of Charleston.

At the White House, President Obama observed: “To say that our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families and their community doesn’t say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel.”

The president added that while he must be restrained in commenting on the details of the case, he would not restrain his emotion — explaining that he knew pastor and state senator Clementa Pinckney, who was among those slain.


In Boston, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley expressed his solidarity: “It is foundational to our country’s heritage that places of worship always be sanctuaries of prayer, safety, and peace. We must reject these senseless acts of hatred and brutality in society.”

The head of the Boston NAACP has said Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans told him police have plans to send officers to bible studies and church services in the coming days. Washington says he hasn’t heard from police yet, but he thinks that’s a good idea.

“I think that type of thing, the police presence, would certainly be appreciated because of course anyone is now going to give a second thought,” Washington says, “even as they go into a house of worship, because they’ll probably ask the question, could that happen here?”

Washington says the tragedy should inspire people to come together across faith boundaries. “I think it’s a wonderful time for us to just support one another.” Washington goes on to say that he has heard from colleagues of different races and different faith backgrounds calling to give their support “and let me know that they’re praying. And so, I think this is the kind of thing we need at this time.”

Washington says a revival service was already planned at his church for this evening, and he’s inviting anyone who’s interested to come early to pray for the families of those who were lost in the shooting.

This afternoon, Charleston officials released the names of the victims:

Tywanza Sanders, 26

Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41

Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45

Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49

Cynthia Hurd, 54

Myra Thompson, 59

Ethel Lance, 70

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74

Suzy Jackson, 87