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Widow of Charleston church shooting victim speaks at Duke

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The widow of a pastor gunned down in Charleston less than a year ago comes to the Triangle.

The widow of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was shot and killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, spoke ahead of a forum on faith and race at Duke University on Tuesday.

Jennifer Pinckney said she continues to struggle with the loss of her husband and thinks about him daily.

Pinckney's husband was the minister of Emanuel AME where he and eight parishioners were gunned down last June during a Bible study.

She tries to keep her daughters busy and active with their regular routines before the shooting.

Pinckney said the hardest part is not seeing her husband each Sunday in the pulpit. It's in those times, she says she and her daughters lean on their faith most.

"Even though this violent act happened, we all have to put God first," Pinckney said.

A white man, Dylann Roof, is charged with murder in state court and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty at his trial set to begin in July.

In this June 18, 2015 file photo, Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof, center, is escorted from the Shelby Police Department in Shelby, N.C.

Roof also faces dozens of charges, including hate crimes, in federal court. Federal prosecutors have not yet said whether they will seek the death penalty. A hearing in that case is set for Thursday in Charleston.

She said Tuesday that she has not reached out to Roof and has no desire to. She will not attend the trial on a regular basis, but has a circle of friends who will go on her behalf. She wants her legacy to be a champion for gun control, education and healthcare.

Through the Pinckney Foundation she wants to purchase a full-service mobile health unit to serve rural areas in and around Charleston. That was a goal of her husband's.


"I still believe that one day I'm going to see Clementa," Pinckney said. "I know that he is looking down on me and the girls. He is smiling down on us."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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