Rev. Clementa Pinckney: Pastor with 'passion for helping the poor' is gone, a victim of US hate crime

Rev. Clementa Pinckney is fondly remembered by friends and colleagues as a gentle, kind and giving man.(Wikipedia/CC/George Ho)

Pastor Clementa Pinckney, who was shot dead Wednesday night by a lone white gunman in what is deemed as a hate crime, is being fondly remembered by his family, friends and colleagues as a "truly gentle, kind and giving man."

Pinckney worked at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was also a state senator. He was shot dead together with eight other members of the congregation.

The suspected gunman, identified as Dylann Roof, was described as a troubled man. He is now under police custody.

Rep. Mark Sanford, a former governor of South Carolina, was one of those who paid tribute to Pinckney and commended him for a life well lived.

"He was a remarkable human being," Sanford said. "He had a gravelly, deep voice—a radio announcer's voice, if you will—and he approached life with that same level of gravitas."

State Senator Kent Williams described his cousin Pinckney as "a man of character." "He was a God-fearing man. He was a family man," he added. "He had a passion for helping the poor, for helping to improve the quality of life for all mankind, especially those who are the least among us."

Rev. Joseph Darby, who is also from the same church as Pinckney's, said he was a great loss since he sponsored progressive legislation and was a staunch advocate for the people.

"He was a very caring and competent pastor. He was a very brave man," he said. "He was an active pastor, and an active advocate. He was not insulting and not the loudest in the room. He knew how to take a stand, and when you do that, you rankle some people who think in strange ways. So it's not surprising."

Pinckney left a wife, Jennifer, and two children, Eliana and Malana.