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Charleston Church to Hold Sunday Service After Shooting

Memorial Honors Lives of Charleston Church Shooting Victims 2:44

The South Carolina church where nine people were shot dead will re-open for services on Sunday, less than a week after the massacre.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston turned from the site of a quiet Bible study Wednesday night to a scene of horror when confessed gunman Dylann Roof opened fire an hour into the group's study.

Police have called the shooting at the historic black church a hate crime. The FBI is examining a 2,444-word white supremacist screed posted to a website that may be linked to Roof.

Cleaning crews mopped up the crime scene on Saturday, the Associated Press reported. Some parishioners went inside the church for the first time since the attack.

"They did a good job cleaning it up, there were a few bullet holes around but what they did, they cut them out so you don't see the actual holes," Harold Washington, 75, told the AP after going inside the room where the victims had been.

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Washington said he expected a large turnout on Sunday.

"It's a church of the Lord — you don't turn nobody down," he said.

Emotions are still raw in the church community, who lost, among others, the Rev. Clementa Pinkney, a state senator who served as the church's lead pastor.

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Cookie Washington, a Charleston artist and president of the board of the Unity Church in nearby North Charleston, was friends with Pinkney.

"He's got two beautiful little girls that were just the apple of his eye," she told NBC News. "You couldn't have a conversation with him about anything without him eventually talking about his children. He was such a good father."

Local artist and unity church board president Cookie Washington, right, hugs a friend after an interdenominational prayer service for healing at Unity church in North Charleston Saturday morning. Erika Angulo / NBC News

Last year, she and several other artists held an art show in the room where Wednesday's murders took place.

No one questioned Roof when he walked into the Bible study meeting because "that's how you are when you're a Christian church," she said. "Bible study is open to all who are seeking the face of God."

Beverly McArthur knew two of the other victims, Myra Thompson and Cynthia Hurd. Hurd, a librarian, would have turned 55 years old on Sunday.

"[Hurd] laughed, smiled, any time," McArthur told NBC News. "It's senseless. Didn't have to be."

Cookie Washington said she was confident the church would rise above this.

"We will not let this little person that did this horrible act, we will not let this destroy us," she said.