Charleston Survivor's Daughter Asked: 'Is Daddy Going to Die?'
Jennifer Pinckney cradled 6-year-old under desk as Dylann Roof killed her husband
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2017 1:32 PM CST
Jennifer Pinckney (center) arrives for the sentencing phase of Dylann Roof's trial in Charleston on Wednesday.   (Leroy Burnell/The Post And Courier via AP)
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(Newser) – "There's nothing wrong with me psychologically," Dylann Roof told a jury Wednesday. It was a statement Jennifer Pinckney had heard before. The wife of Rev. Clementa Pinckney had been in her husband's study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston with their 6-year-old daughter, Malana, on June 17, 2015, when she heard a popping noise. Her hand was already on the door handle when she realized she was hearing gunshots. She grabbed her daughter and escaped to a secretary's office, where the pair hid under a desk, each covering the other's mouth to keep quiet, she told a jury Wednesday, per the Daily Beast. "Momma, is Daddy going to die?" Malana asked her. "Be quiet," she responded. "Don’t say anything." Bullets ripped through the walls before Pinckney said she heard Roof tell a victim, "I'm not crazy. I have to do this." Then Pinckney saw the office door handle move. "A chill completely went over me," she said. "I felt, 'This is it for us.'"

But she had locked the door, and Roof left without any further attempt to get inside, said Pinckney, the prosecution's first witness in the sentencing phase of Roof's trial. Only after she called 911 did Pinckney learn that her husband had been the first of nine to die, killed as he rose to pray. A female cop who responded to the church gathered Malana up in her arms, and told her they would play a game with two rules: She would bury her head in the officer's shoulder and not open her eyes. "I’m just gonna carry you out of here. Just keep your eyes closed." Rev. Anthony Thompson, whose wife died in the shooting, also testified Wednesday. Myra Thompson was to lead her first Bible study that night and she left home with "this smile on her face, like she was radiant," he said, per the Charleston Post and Courier. "She was everything I had, everything I ever wanted, and my life will never be the same."

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