Raleigh churches remember victims of Charleston shooting

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The sustained sound of countless church bells hung in the skies above America for several minutes Sunday morning. (WTVD)

The sustained sound of countless church bells hung in the skies above America for several minutes Sunday morning.

The Rev. Callie Swanlund, associate rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Raleigh smiled while affirming that her congregation "joins with the countless communities of faith across the nation this morning grieving with Emanuel AME. Our hearts are breaking for them, and our prayers and love go to them."

Emanuel AME in Charleston, the scene of the Wednesday night massacre of nine people when a lone gunman opened fire, welcomed long-time members as well as people from the community on Sunday.

At the same time, miles away in Durham. Lauretta McCauley smiled as she remembered visiting the historic Charleston church to witness a relative's wedding.

"I wanted to reach out and make sure that she had not suffered an immediate loss," McCauley said. "We all feel the loss of everyone that was killed, but through my aunt I found out that none of her relatives were actual victims."

Those violent deaths at the hands of a man holding what investigators believe was a .45 caliber pistol have community leaders across America calling for regulation of gun sales.

Rev. Portia Rochelle leads the Raleigh-Apex NAACP, and she told a group of mourners on Saturday: "We don't need everybody toting a gun. Some of you will agree, some of you will not. That's okay. We must take action, and get a handle on guns."

"Gun sales actually increase after each act of violence of this sort," said Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina's 1st Congressional District. "We're going to continue to push for gun control. I personally will be advocating for strict liability, to purchase a gun and give it to another individual."

That process resumes later. Right now, Anita Thompson of the Emanuel AME Church in Durham advises mourners to seek help from a higher power:

"As sad as it may be, I still believe God has control of everything that is going on," said Thompson.

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