Sister of Emanuel 9 victim speaks publicly about tragedy for the - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Sister of Emanuel 9 victim speaks publicly about tragedy for the first time

Sitting in the family room of her Conway home, McIver recalled the night of shooting. She said she was in Charleston earlier that day making visits to those she knew while in the hospital there. (Source: Christel Bell) Sitting in the family room of her Conway home, McIver recalled the night of shooting. She said she was in Charleston earlier that day making visits to those she knew while in the hospital there. (Source: Christel Bell)
During her two weeks in Charleston after the shooting, she found comfort in making pictures, and memorabilia of her sister for her family. (Source: Christel Bell) During her two weeks in Charleston after the shooting, she found comfort in making pictures, and memorabilia of her sister for her family. (Source: Christel Bell)
Since the shooting, the sister has found comfort in journaling, collecting pictures, programs, and memorabilia from the dozens of events and tributes that have been held across the nation remembering the Emanuel 9. (Source: Christel Bell) Since the shooting, the sister has found comfort in journaling, collecting pictures, programs, and memorabilia from the dozens of events and tributes that have been held across the nation remembering the Emanuel 9. (Source: Christel Bell)
She says her family has relied on their faith to help them find strength to heal, and she believes the tragedy has taught the world about love. (Source: Christel Bell) She says her family has relied on their faith to help them find strength to heal, and she believes the tragedy has taught the world about love. (Source: Christel Bell)

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Charleston church shooting, the sister of one of the victims speaks out publicly since the tragedy. Marjorie Cloakley McIver lost her dear sister, Myra Thompson on June 17, 2015.

Sitting in the family room of her Conway home, McIver recalled the night of shooting. She said she was in Charleston earlier that day making visits to those she knew while in the hospital there.

"It was just after 9 o’clock that evening and as soon as I got the bedroom to unpack, I got a phone call and it was by baby sister, Blondelle, She said, 'Retta,' that's my nickname, you've got to come back. I said, "Come back for what?" She said, "There was a shooting at Emanuel and Myra was there leading Bible study."

McIver said she had to regroup, re-pack, and she got back on the road as quickly as she could. "Even though I was among family, there were so many crowds it didn’t give me a chance to think, and I did not want to be angry, I just wanted to have more information," she explained.

During her two weeks in Charleston after the shooting, she found comfort in making pictures, and memorabilia of her sister for her family. "I started working on the obituary, to stay occupied, and then I thought family is always important, and I started taking pictures, and I made these buttons," she said, pointing to the buttons that have a beautiful picture of her sister, and another button that has pictures of all the nine victims killed in the shooting.

Thompson often lead Bible study at the church in downtown Charleston. "Her worship life was beyond anything that I’ve seen. Once she got the calling to the ministry, she studied, and studied," McIver stated. 

McIver said just before the shooting, Thompson received her certificate from Rev. Clementa Pickney, pastor of Emanuel AME at the time, to preach the Gospel. 

"This incident that happened, it couldn’t have happened at a better place, at a better time, and I think as a result of that it not only brought the community together, but it brought the families even closer," McIver said. 

She remembers her sister as a "go-getter," she loved to learn, was passionate about family, and committed to the work of the Lord. Thompson was an English teacher; she also had a Master's degree in Counseling, allowing her to be a middle school counselor.  McIver and Thompson grew up in a home that pushed education.

McIver said her sister did everything for her own two children. "Denise and Kevin were her heart," said McIver. 

Thompson's husband, Rev. Anthony Thompson, pastors another church in Charleston. After the shooting, donations and support poured in. Behind his church building 'Myra's Garden' was created. "In that garden, I mean it is just so beautiful and peaceful it just reminds you of the peace that these nine may be at now, and the peace of the family, the forgiveness," she explained. 

Since the shooting, the sister has found comfort in journaling, collecting pictures, programs, and memorabilia from the dozens of events and tributes that have been held across the nation remembering the Emanuel 9. 

McIver added, "Activities and programs, tributes, memorials in honor of the Emanuel 9, and because there were so many it was impossible to go to all of them."

She says her family has relied on their faith to help them find strength to heal, and she believes the tragedy has taught the world about love. 

McIver recalled a powerful moment in which many families including herself were able to gain strength. She said during the bond hearing for accused shooter, Dylan Roof, the families of the victims were in court. 

"The judge made a comment that we needed to be sensitive to Roof's family, and I could just see the eyes going from one to the other," McIver said. She said many thought we should all be sensitive to everyone in this situation, but it was at that very moment she witnessed the power of forgiveness. 

"It (Judge's comment) did not create any anger in that room, it caused one family member after another, to another, after another to get up and say, 'we forgive."

As McIver reflected on the year that has passed since her sister was murdered, she said she is troubled by the violence in America, including the mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando. 

"I'm just saddened that the world has gotten to the point that we just don't value human life anymore, and it just saddens me," explained McIver.  She says both Charleston and Orlando have forced her see life differently.  "If it is so easy to hate, why would it be so hard to love? " McIver said. 

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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