Emotional Moments of Grief at 1st Funerals for Charleston Shooting Victims

Two victims' funerals were held today in South Carolina.

ByMEGHAN KENEALLY
June 25, 2015, 4:19 PM

— -- A packed church began the wave of nine funerals for the victims of the fatal shooting last week during Bible study in a historic Charleston, South Carolina, church.

The first funeral was for Ethel Lance, 70, at the Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, with tearful relatives and composed religious and political leaders in attendance this morning.

PHOTO: Reverends Al Shapton and Jesse Jackson stand behind the casket holding Emanuel AME Church shooting victim Ethel Lance during her funeral at the Royal Missionary Baptist Church, June 25, 2015, in North Charleston, S.C.
Reverends Al Shapton and Jesse Jackson stand behind the casket holding Emanuel AME Church shooting victim Ethel Lance during her funeral at the Royal Missionary Baptist Church, June 25, 2015, in North Charleston, S.C.
JIM WATSON/Getty Images

National civil rights figures – the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton -- lined the coffin after the service, and Gov. Nikki Haley was seen standing next to Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

Lance's grandson Brandon Richter spoke movingly about her connection to the Emanuel AME Church, which was also the site of the shooting.

"I’d pick up the phone to call my granny just to ask her how she’s doing, and she used to always say, 'Oh, Rhe, I’m going to church to take care of the church; let me call you back when I’m done,'" he said.

"And every time I called her, her very last words to me is, 'I love you.' So I want everybody to know that my grandmother is a wonderful, wonderful precious woman and we don’t have no hate for nobody because our power of love is stronger than ever.”

PHOTO: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is hugged during the funeral of Ethel Lance, who was one of nine victims of a mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, June 25, 2015, in North Charleston, S.C.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is hugged during the funeral of Ethel Lance, who was one of nine victims of a mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, June 25, 2015, in North Charleston, S.C.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The second funeral of the day was this afternoon for fellow victim Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, at a different area church.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people attended the viewing for Emanuel AME Church pastor and state Sen. Clementa Pinckney under the state Capitol dome, with his funeral scheduled for Friday when President Obama will give the eulogy.

PHOTO: Family members embrace as the casket of Ethel Lance during her funeral service, June 25, 2015, in North Charleston, S.C.
Family members embrace as the casket of Ethel Lance during her funeral service, June 25, 2015, in North Charleston, S.C.
David Goldman/AP Photo

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