A woman who was a pastor, high school track coach and mother of three that was among the nine people killed in a massacre inside a church in South Carolina Wednesday evening is a Newark native, according to her Facebook page.
The Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, was an assistant pastor at the historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, where 21-year-old Dylann Roof allegedly opened fire during a Wednesday night Bible study, killing her and eight others, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also had friends in New Jersey.
Coleman-Singleton is a Newark native and a 1987 graduate of Vailsburg High School, according to her Facebook page. She went to South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, before returning to New Jersey in the early 1990s to get her master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders.
She’s worked as a speech pathologist at Goose Creek High School, in a Charleston suburb, since 2007 and was also the coach for the girl’s track and field team.
Coleman-Singleton is survived by a daughter, Camryn, and two sons, Caleb and Chris. She is also survived by a brother and a sister, both of whom mourned their loss Friday.
Her brother, Mark Jones Sr., said there was no on/off button with Coleman-Singleton. He says, "She was always on."
Coleman-Singleton's older sister, Jacqueline Askew, said her sister was a woman of God -- and that she would have tried to help the alleged killer see the higher power.
"She would be the one, when they said there were words exchanged, she would be the one to reach and hug and say, 'Baby, you know what, God loves you and so do I."
Chris Singleton, who plays baseball at Charleston Southern University, said at a prayer meeting that was organized by the team, “We are mourning right now.”
“My mother was a God-fearing woman who loved everyone with all her heart,” he said, flanked by teammates and coaches.
In an interview with NBC affiliate WCBD, Chris Singleton said he and his family has forgiven his mother’s suspected killer.
"We forgive, that's one thing we are going to do," he said. "She's the best mom I could even ever ask for. Honestly, it's going to be tough but I know we will get through it as a family.”
Coleman-Singleton has surviving relatives in New Jersey, according to multiple media report.
Roof was arrested Thursday morning in Shelby, North Carolina, after an intense manhunt. Sources tell NBC News he confessed to the massacre and said he "almost didn't go through with it because everyone was so nice to him."
He's currently detained at the Charleston County Detention Center and faces nine counts of murder.