A Year Out from Tragedy – From Charleston SC to Orlando FL

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It’s been a year since Dylann Roof fatally shot nine black worshippers attending a Bible study group at the Mother Emanuel church at 110 Calhoun Street in Charleston, SC. As a resident of Charleston, many of you who attend our webinars may have heard me comment at the time on the tragic shooting incident experienced on June 17, 2015.

The senselessness of the attack is mirrored in that experienced by the community of Orlando. I wanted to take a moment and discuss what it looks like a year down the road here, in the hopes that our neighbors in Florida may find some sense of balance and healing in the coming months.

The reactions and responses of community leaders, the families of victims and others in the first hours and early days after a shooting of this magnitude, are critical to the long-term consequences and resiliency of the community, the businesses and business organizations in the community, and the people affected.

For Charleston, we had tremendous leadership, and for that, so many are deeply thankful. It is also sadly a reflection of what has been learned through each of these tragedies that allows communities and their leadership to understand that in the face of grief, critical decisions must still be made, and be made wisely based upon what has been learned from like-tragedy.

Tremendous appreciation must be extended to the police, first responder community, hospital staff and others who respond heroically in any mass violence event.

For Orlando, the next days will be deep mourning days and the media will be a constant in all aspects of the days, weeks, months and on every anniversary of the shooting hereafter.

There will be funerals and services now, for those who senselessly lost their lives. In Charleston, we lined our streets and bowed our heads as processions wound their way through our community, but we did not do this 49 times. This will be an exhausting time, both physically and mentally for everyone; employers, employees, customers and vendors alike. A fatigue will set in, and with that a feeling of guilt for feeling fatigue.

Key employees and co-workers, best friends and parents, neighbors and caregivers – 49 empty seats next to someone who is used to having that person there.


In Charleston, because a religious institution was attacked, many of the commemorative events planned are faith-based.

“The city of Charleston and Emanuel AME Church have announced 12 days of events dubbed “Victory in the Valley” to commemorate the June 17 anniversary of a racially motivated shooting that left nine worshipers dead and a community in mourning.

Church and city officials, victims’ family members and survivors of the shooting, among others, met for months to discuss the events and create a schedule. The events will run from June 15 to June 26 to honor the families of those killed, the shooting survivors and the church congregation.

Various houses of worship, the Charleston County Public Library and others are joining in to honor those impacted by the killings and to promote unity among races.

The events will include a June 18 keynote speech by the Rev. Dr. Bernice King, youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Events are open to the public, although some require tickets.”

Other events include Unity Walks and Thanksgiving Meals, Candlelight Vigils, Mixers and Panel Discussions. A full list of events may be found at the Post & Courier Website.

A mural by noted artist Tripp Barnes honoring the shooting victims is being unveiled a few blocks from the AME church. Barnes is a South Carolina native who has created celebrity portraits for Susan Sarandon, Matthew McConaughey and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees among others. He donated his time over two weeks to create the Charleston mural.

AME Mural

Security will be tight and roads will be closed as we as a city prepare for the thousands who will converge on our downtown to memorialize the victims of the Church shooting.

Wisely, Charleston Police Department Chief Greg Mullen said the measures were put into place before the attack last weekend that killed 49 people in Orlando, Fla. But that shooting affirmed the need for such security.

Everyone participating in the events should be vigilant and call 911 if they notice something suspicious.

“As a result of what occurred in Orlando, that certainly … requires us to recognize that what we’re doing is absolutely needed,” Mullen said Tuesday during a news conference. “It just confirms to us that we are doing the right thing.”

Officers from state, local and federal agencies, including the FBI, will be in uniform and plain clothes, making for a “very visible” law enforcement presence. They will mingle with crowds and screen everyone entering TD Arena for Friday’s biggest event: a 10 a.m. ecumenical service. Attendees must have a ticket that can be obtained online for free. Everyone attending the events or traveling through the area should be patient


Having responded to the shootings at Virginia Tech, we at Firestorm understand and commend the significant and heroic efforts extended by the police, first responder community, hospital staff, and every day citizens who respond to these and like tragedies.

Everyone at Firestorm expresses their deepest sympathies to all who have lost loved ones, friends, and employees as a result of these senseless tragedies. We also wish the best for all those currently in recovery.

For a superior article on the events as they unfolded in Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015, visit The Post & Courier’s article Emanuel – One Year Later

In Memoriam


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