Charleston residents: violence doesn't define our city

This sensless act of violence does not characterize this city or its people.

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston is a city with four centuries of history.

It's skyline is filled with steeples.

"Very strong faith influence," said Charleston resident, Forrest Coleman.

It's often voted as the number one tourist destination in America. It's sandy beaches, remarkable history, and world-renowned restaurant scene bring out tons of tourists each year.

But with two isolated shootings separated by two years, the Holy City is in the headlines for the wrong reason this time.

On Thursday during the busy lunch hour, a disgruntled employee walked into the popular restaurant Virginia's on King and shot a chef, killing him.

"This was note an act of terror," said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. "This was not a hate crime."

The gunman took another person hostage. Negotiators tried to talk him outside but eventually entered the restaurant and shot him. He's at a hospital in critical condition. 

"Thank God my wife wasn't in the mood to eat out," said Chris Mitchell, who lives two blocks away from Virginia's.

"That could have been me and my family dining in that restaurant with my kids," added a grateful Mitchell.

With cops at every corner of downtown Charleston, people look to Mother Emmanuel Way for hope.

"The acts of hatred and violence definitely do not define this city," said Coleman, who works as a pastor at Awaken Church in Charleston.

In June 2015, a white supremacist killed nine people inside Emmanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston.

"Those tragedies, those are singular events," said Emily Coleman, a local pharmacist.

The Colemans say while there is hope in forgiveness, the city of Charleston will rely on it's foundation of faith to move forward.

"People here are people that really exude character and love."

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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