CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Security will be high at events in Charleston commemorating a mass shooting at an African-American church in which nine people died a year ago this week, police said on Tuesday.
An ecumenical service is planned for Friday morning to remember the slain members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and to honor survivors of the June 17, 2015 rampage by a white man who authorities said was racially motivated.
Dylann Roof is due to stand trial on federal and state charges in the attack and could be sentenced to death if convicted.
The Friday service will be held at a 5,000-seat arena a block from the church, the same place President Obama eulogized the church pastor and state senator Reverend Clementa Pinckney last year. Governor Nikki Haley and local, state and federal elected officials are expected to attend.
In addition, 12 days of remembrance events are planned, including a Bible study and service at the church. The attack occurred during a Bible study at the church.
Roads will be closed near events, and those attending Friday’s service will be screened for weapons, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said.
Uniformed local law enforcement, state police and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be “highly visible,” Mullen said.
“We want people to know we are there,” he said.
Police security measures for the events in Charleston were planned before a gunman killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub over the weekend, in what is being called the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Mullen said.
“What occurred in Orlando requires us to recognize that what we are doing is absolutely necessary,” Mullen said.
(Editing by Karen Brooks and Cynthia Osterman)