BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge church gathered to pray for peace after the church killing in South Carolina. The tragedy sent shock waves through the country Thursday.
Reverend Herman Kelly is the pastor over at Bethel A.M.E. Church in South Baton Rouge. He said he was stunned to hear that nine people were shot and killed at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina Wednesday night.
"I was angry, and I said 'Lord, why is this happening?'" said Kelly. "It's so disheartening because it could have been anyone of us."
One of the nine killed was a South Carolina state senator and pastor, Clementa Pinckney. Rev. Kelly said he met Pinckney a couple times and has been to his church. He said the killing has him uneasy because he was at church Wednesday too.
"We all can identify," said Kelly. "Pastor Pinckney was doing the Lord's will. He was at bible study and that is where we are all at on Wednesdays."
Law enforcement are calling the massacre a hate crime. Detectives say witnesses heard the accused shooter Dylann Roof say "You rape our women and you're taking over our country."
Rev. Kelly said know that hurts, but he has to learn to forgive.
"We still have to love each other," said Kelly. "As angry as I am, as mad as I am, I have to read the word and it says love your enemy."
Members of the Bethel A.M.E. Church prayed for the families of the victims Thursday night. They said prayer is their only option in times like these and wanted people to know that the church is still a refuge