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Funerals for 3 more victims of church shooting held

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Funerals for three more victims of a deadly shooting during a Bible study in South Carolina were held yesterday at the church where they were slain.

Services were first held for Cynthia Hurd, 54, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, 11 days after a gunman entered the church and killed her and eight other people -- all African-Americans. Police contend the attack was racially motived.

Hurd, a longtime Charleston librarian, will be remembered as a tireless public servant and loving family member, speakers at her funeral said. Attendees included South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"Her death will lead to change and Cynthia Hurd will be helping millions," Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley Jr. said during a eulogy.

Riley remembered Hurd as a young girl serving ice cream. She went from serving people ice cream, he said, "to leading them to knowledge," as a librarian for almost 30 years.

The killings will go down in history with other episodes of church violence, Riley said, referencing the Civil Rights era bombing of a Baptist church in Alabama that killed four girls.

The tragedy "shook an America that didn't want to believe this kind of hate could still exist," Riley said.

Jackson told The Associated Press that it is "really time for a new South." "This was the most traumatic hit since Dr. Martin Luther King was killed 50 years ago. This could be a defining moment for the American dream for all its people," Jackson said. "This is a resurrection. Look around, there are white and black people together."

Funerals for Tywanza Sanders, 26, and Susie Jackson, 87, took place at the church later in the day.

The funerals follow one Friday for another victim, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, whose eulogy was delivered in person by President Barack Obama.

Obama sang a hymn of hope and spoke with the fervor of a preacher as he eulogized Pinckney, and minced no words in calling for an end to racial injustice and gun violence in the United States. Obama suddenly began singing "Amazing Grace," quickly joined by ministers and some of the thousands who packed into the arena at the College of Charleston.

Pinckney was a state senator and pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, a church founded by the leader of a failed slave revolt and burned to the ground by angry whites in 1822.

After the Civil War, the church led efforts to expand equal rights in the South, hosting Martin Luther King Jr. during campaigns in South Carolina.

Justice Department officials broadly agree the shootings meet the legal requirements for a hate crime, meaning federal charges are likely, a federal law enforcement source told The Associated Press on Thursday, speaking anonymously because the investigation is ongoing.

Dylann Storm Roof, now charged with nine murders, embraced Confederate symbols before the attack, posing with the rebel battle flag and burning the U.S. flag in photos. Their appearance online prompted this week's stunning political reversals, despite the outsize role such symbols have played in Southern identity.

Obama praised Haley for moving first by asking lawmakers Monday to bring down the Confederate flag outside South Carolina's Statehouse. Other politicians then came out saying historic but divisive symbols no longer deserve places of honor.

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