Yesterday, Brother Clementa Pinckney [Gamma Gamma, ’92], a South Carolina state senator and pastor of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina–the oldest AME church in the South–was fatally shot while leading a prayer service. Brother Pinckney, 41, and several church members were shot in a mass shooting at the historic black church by a white gunman. According to some reports, the shooting has left nine people dead.

Brother Pinckney was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1996 at age 23. In 2000, he was elected to the South Carolina State Senate at age 27. At that time, he was one of the youngest people to be elected to the South Carolina State Legislature. He represented Jasper, Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton and Hampton counties.

In 1999, Brother Pinckney spoke about his desire to lead in a profile by the Savannah Morning News, which named him one of its 20 Under 40, saying “In life, we are all faced with the opportunity to serve. It is at times a hard choice to make but those hard choices yield great rewards. Those rewards are mostly for others and not for ourselves. That’s what service is all about.”

The brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity ask that you keep Brother Clementa Pinckney and his family, and the families of those affected, in your thoughts as they navigate this difficult time in the aftermath of a hateful, heinous event. Brother Pinckney is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and their two children, Eliana and Malana.

It is because of members like Brother Clementa Pinckney that Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity remains the College of Friendship, the University of Brotherly Love and the School for the Better Making of Men.