Local News

Sister of Charleston shooting victim trying to rebuild life

Posted July 14, 2015 6:50 p.m. EDT

— Thanksgiving and Christmas will be tough this year when Marlene Jenkins' family gathers in her native Charleston, S.C., for the holidays.

The Fayetteville woman's sister, Myra Thompson, was one of nine people gunned down during a Bible study class last month at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in a crime authorities say was motivated by racial hatred.

The shooting galvanized the state of South Carolina, which last week removed the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds in Columbia for the first time in 54 years.

"I saw a state, I saw a nation, I saw the world looking in on what was happening and coming together for the good of America," said Jenkins, who attended the flag lowering on Friday.

Jenkins spent about two weeks in Charleston after the shooting and says she was humbled by the outpouring of love and encouragement from around the world. She attended the funeral for Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel AME, where President Barack Obama sang "Amazing Grace" as part of Pinckney's eulogy.

Obama also took Thompson's family aside to speak with them privately after the funeral, Jenkins said.

"That was even more compelling," she said.

Family members are relying on each other and their faith to get through the tragedy, Jenkins said.

"We've sat, and we've talked, and we've cried, and we've laughed about memories that we have about her, and we're going to let those memories keep us going," she said. "She was an English teacher and a guidance counselor by profession, but by trade, she was the best sister you could ever have."