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Local community leaders react to the shootings in Charleston

Pastor Carl Kenney of the Bethel Baptist Church in Columbia said he was in disbelief when he learned the news of the mass church shooting in Charleston, SC Thursday morning.

“It just left me wondering what kind of deranged person would do something like that,” he said.

The shootings in Charleston leave him worried. Kenney said hate crimes can happen anywhere.

“This is one of those places with that pocket of that type of ideology that makes it kind of fearful for me to stand up in the pulpit on this coming Sunday,” he said. “I pastor a congregation of mostly white people who love me and I love them and care for them, but what’s to say a person would walk into church on Sunday and decide to take a shot at me.”

According to the Missouri Hate Crime Report, in 2013, 41 reported hate crimes were racially-based. Of those incidents, 78 percent were anti-black.

From 2008 to 2013, there were 26 reported hate crimes in Boone County; 2 in Audrain County; and 2 in Cole County.

Hate crime statistics for 2014 have not yet been released.

Kenney said he’s not sure if hate crimes will ever stop, but he said educating youth can help.

“This is adding on to a 5 year period of one maddening thing after another,” he said. “This is not a majority. This is one person. But we do have to ask ourselves the question ‘What fused the hate?'”

A prayer vigil organized by students at the University of Missouri will take place Thursday night at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center at 8 p.m.

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