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Salisbury native in Charleston: ‘It’s beyond horrible’

By Susan Shinn

For the Salisbury Post

Linda Ketner feels much like she did in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo.

“Everybody is walking around with a dazed expression,” Ketner said Thursday. “It’s beyond horrible. It’s incomprehensible.”

Ketner was referring to the murder of nine church members on Wednesday evening at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, including the church’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

Pinckney was also a South Carolina state senator, the youngest black man ever elected to the legislature. That’s why Ketner, a Salisbury native and longtime political activist, knew Pinckney personally.

“It just makes me sick,” Ketner said. “I’ve been up all night. He is one of the best men I’ve ever known.”

She quickly corrected herself to refer to Pinckney in the past tense.

“He was just good to the bone,” she said.

He was also a big man, she said, probably around 6 feet 4 inches, so she doesn’t understand why he didn’t take down the suspect. Maybe the shooter got to him first, she reasoned. “So that part was stunning. It’s beyond tragic. It’s like we’re all walking around in a dream.”

Ketner has lived in downtown Charleston for some 32 years, and knows the Emanuel congregation well.

“They are a warm and embracing congregation,” she said.

She feels sure the suspect — who is said to have been in the church for up to an hour before he opened fire — had to have realized how good a man Pinckney was.

“You can’t be around him without knowing how good he is,” she said. “To do that is pure evil. The man who killed him is evil.”

The suspect is white, and the church members were black.

“This racism must stop,” Ketner said. “It is tearing our country apart, and it must stop. It’s tearing our community apart, and we’re better than that.”

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