Friends of victims remember lives lost in Charleston massacre -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Friends of victims remember lives lost in Charleston massacre

CHARLESTON, SC (WMBF) - Earlier Thursday, people crowded Mary Emanuel AME Church and the street in front to pray and mourn the loss of the nine lives killed Wednesday.

Right in the middle of the crowd was one man and his friends who never expected to be so close to the situation.

In the midst of a crowd full of heartbreak and celebration were many folks still trying to figure out how they feel.

Albert Williams lives next to church. He was also right next door to the same incident everyone was mourning.

Describing the scene Wednesday, Williams said is much different than Thursday.

“Police, hound dogs, helicopters, I'm like this is surreal,” he recalled.

Williams said he was in his home when a man shot and killed nine people inside the Emanuel AME Church next door.

Williams said he has gone to the church for some time and said the later it got into the night, the more he learned about those killed.

Of the nine victims, he said he knew two.

Nine victims' identities confirmed in Emanuel AME Church shooting

Williams said his pastor and fraternity brother and his friend, who was also a local barber, lost their lives in the massacre.

“He was young, under 30. High school graduate, college graduate, had his barbers license, worked in his own shop, just doing his own thing, and for his life to be taken like that,” Williams said, remembering a lost loved one.

Williams' friend Patrick Marzett was also nearby. He said he too knew folks at the church.

“I see stuff like that on television quite frequently unfortunately, and then for it to happen here, it hits so close to home, it's kind of hard to really grasp,” Marzett admitted.

Both said the sights and sounds of Wednesday night were shocking and surreal, but what the nation knows about Charleston shouldn't be limited to just that.

The men say the tight-knit community and continued faith are showing good can in fact come from bad.

“God doesn't make mistakes, even as cliché as it sounds. As long as we continue to worship in the Spirit and Truth, the true purpose of this tragedy is going to be revealed,” said Williams.

The coroner has since released the names of the nine victims.

We were able to identify Tywanza Sanders as one of Williams' two friends lost.

Williams did not share the local pastor's name.

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