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Local Official: Charleston Residents Somber In Wake Of 'Unthinkable' Shooting

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And earlier this hour, we called a member of the Charleston County Council. His name is Henry Darby. We wanted to find out about how Charleston residents were reacting, as we've just heard from Robert Costa. But we wanted to ask him more. Good morning.

HENRY DARBY: Good morning, ma'am.

MONTAGNE: First of all, my condolences to your Charleston, and it is such a sad event that's happening there. But let me begin by asking you how your district is reacting.

DARBY: Well, we are in a quite somber mood at this time. We are extremely saddened that this has happened. It's almost unthinkable that something of this nature could happen. It's just so unbelievable. I simply can't fathom a very young man of this age to be so filled with hatred. I just - it's hard to understand that.

MONTAGNE: The church, the Emanuel AME Church, it has a very rich and long, long history. Could you please give us what some of that history is?

DARBY: Well, it's the moral compass of Charleston. Many of our civil rights leaders came from the church. And it is where we meets if there are major problems with - in this district.

MONTAGNE: And what are some of its historic events? First of all, it was founded in 1816, but one of its founders, Denmark Vesey, he was executed back in the 1800s - 1822 - for organizing slave rebellion. What was that all about?

DARBY: Well, Denmark Vesey was a former slave who wanted freedom for his folk - his people. And he was going to lead the revolution to procure the necessary freedom, but however, he was turned in, captured and was hanged here in Charleston. So it's a very historical church. And Denmark Vesey is one of the most prominent members thereof because of the insurrection that he would have led.

MONTAGNE: Back to the present. You are headed, I gather, to a vigil for the people who were killed at Emanuel AME Church. What is going to be happening at that vigil?

DARBY: Well, we are just going to, you know, say some prayers and come together as a group and also to ask the public to please remain calm and that we can work through this because we are coming off the heels of the shooting of Walter Scott. So we are just going to ask for peace and calm now.

MONTAGNE: Right, this was North Charleston. Walter Scott was shot as he was stopped for a traffic violation - shot by a policeman as he was running away.

DARBY: Yes, yes.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us certainly on this sad day.

DARBY: Thank you. Thank you very much.

MONTAGNE: And that was Charleston County Councilmember Henry Darby. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.