South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham & Other 2016 Presidential Hopefuls Give Condolences To Charleston
The shooting that killed nine people in Charleston, South Carolina's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is getting attention from around the nation. A number of 2016 presidential hopefuls have turned away from politics and shared their thoughts and prayers with the families who lost loved ones. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke about the Charleston shootings and shared his support for the community. He also said his daughter had a class with the alleged shooter, according to CNN.
Graham, a Republican; former Republican Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; and Donald Trump all cancelled campaign events in or around Charleston. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he will continue to hold a rally on Sunday at a larger venue, according to the DailyMail. Graham cancelled his political schedule for the rest of the week so he could fly back to South Carolina and be with his constituents, according to USA Today. Graham sent a specific message out to the families of the victims. He asked that they know they "are being prayed for and loved by so many in the community and across the nation," according to the Washington Post. In his statement, he also said citizens' sense of security has been "robbed and shaken," according to MSNBC:
There are bad people in this world who are motivated by hate. Every decent person has been victimized by the hateful, callous disregard for human life shown by the individual who perpetrated these horrible acts.
Police have since apprehended 21-year-old Dylann Roof, whom they allege killed six women and three men Wednesday night. Roof allegedly attended a prayer session at the church for about an hour before he stood up and opened fire. According to witnesses in the church, Roof said he was there "to kill black people," according to CNN. He was arrested by police in Shelby, North Carolina, on Thursday, according to MSNBC.
In an interview with CNN, Graham said his niece was in an 8th grade English class with Roof. Though he said his niece couldn't recall Roof making statements related to race, Graham claimed:
It's about a young man who is obviously twisted. ... No one at home [in South Carolina] believes this represents us. We don't want to be judged by him.
A number of other 2016 presidential hopefuls have shared their condolences with the families who lost loved ones, either through official statements or on Twitter. Bush released a statement wishing for the families to be "lifted up by the prayers of our entire nation," and referenced the death of the city's beloved pastor and longtime State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, according to USA Today:
Columba and I mourn today with the Emanuel AME Church and the families of the victims of this terrible crime. Our hearts are broken at the senseless loss of life. Our prayers are for the community that has lost its pastor and a brave leader.
Speaking at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican, called for a moment of silence for the victims of the attack, saying that “Christians across our nation” were united in “lifting up the congregants at Emmanuel AME,” according to the Post. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, also a Republican, called the event a "sickness in our country," according to the Post:
What kind of person goes in a church and shoots nine people? ... There’s something terribly wrong. But it isn’t going to be fixed by your government. It’s people straying away, it’s people not understanding where salvation comes from.
Other candidates shared their condolences on Twitter:
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