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Minnesotans hold prayer vigils, mourn in solidarity with Charleston

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Churches and community groups in Minnesota gathered Thursday night to mourn in solidarity with the people of Charleston South Carolina.

In Minneapolis, the Million Artist Movement held a Juneteenth event where organizers encouraged people attending to say the names of the nine people shot and killed inside Charleston's historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Wednesday night.

“We are people who have so much love and we are people who have so much pain,” one person at the vigil told WCCO.

The victims in Charleston were as young as 26, and as old as 87. They had gathered at the landmark black church Wednesday night for Bible study, the New York Times says.

At about 9 p.m., after the suspect had been in the church for an hour, police say he stood up and began shooting, ABC reports. He fled, and Thursday morning officials identified the suspect as a 21-year-old.

He was arrested hours later in North Carolina. It's being investigated as a hate crime.

KARE 11 reports Saint James A.M.E. Church in St. Paul and Minnesota Council of Churches in Minneapolis both held vigils Thursday.

"This is not just something that happened to one of our churches, this happened to all of us," Saint James pastor Rev. Stacey Smith told KARE 11.

MPR News spoke with Rev. Nazim Fakir from St. Peter's African Methodist Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, about the how AME members are coping and reacting.

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