Local church holds prayer service for Charleston shooting victims

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — People across the country are mourning the loss of nine people gunned down in a Charleston church Wednesday night, and that includes people here in Hampton Roads.

“America is hurting. Everybody is hurting, and we should be hurting,” said Bishop Burnell Williams, of Kingdown Reign Church in Virginia Beach.

Williams brought church leaders and members together to pray for Charleston Thursday night.

“Many had tears in their eyes,” Williams said. “Many were just here to somewhat say, ‘I understand. I am here with those families, even though we are in an entirely different state.'”

Williams told WAVY.com the shooting in Charleston at Emanuel AME Church is incomprehensible. He said he’s struggled with the witness accounts about the suspect, especially learning 21-year-old Dylann Roof was welcomed at the church’s bible study Wednesday night. Charleston police said Roof then open fired on the people sitting with him, killing nine.

Even knowing what police say happened, Williams said, they are saying a prayer for the suspect, too. “I’m hoping that there is a moment that somebody can pierce his heart and touch his life in a real, real way,” he said.

Two other local churches, that WAVY.com is aware of, held prayer services for Charleston Thursday night: Emanuel AME church on North Street in Portsmouth and Macedonia AME Church in Suffolk.

If you know of another prayer service or vigil, email the information to us at reportit@wavy.com.

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