The pastor of a church near the site of the racist fatal shooting of three Black people told congregants Sunday to follow Jesus Christ’s example and keep their sadness from turning to rage.
The Saturday shooting came on the same day thousands visited Washington, D.C., to attend the Rev. Al Sharpton’s 60th anniversary commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech.
The latest in a long history of American racist killings was at the forefront of Sunday services at St. Paul AME Church about 3 miles from the crime scene.
Our hearts are broken,” the Rev. Willie Barnes told about 100 congregants Sunday morning. “If any of you are like me, I’m fighting trying to not be angry.”
The choir sang “Amazing Grace” before ministers said prayers for the victims’ families and the broader community. Congregants with heads bowed answered with amens from the pews.
A masked white man carried out the shooting with at least one weapon bearing a swastika inside a Dollar General store in a predominantly Black neighborhood, leaving two men and one woman dead in an attack that Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters quickly called “racially motivated.”
The shooting happened just before 2 p.m. within a mile of Edward Waters University, a small, historically Black university. In addition to carrying a firearm painted with a symbol of Germany’s Nazi regime of the 1930s and 1940s, the shooter issued racist statements before the shooting. He killed himself at the scene.
“He hated Black people,” the sheriff said.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.