Emanuel AME Church Shooting Survivor Polly Sheppard Says, “God Left Me to Finish What I Gotta’ Do”

Felicia Sanders (R) and Polly Sheppard, two of the three survivors of the Mother Emanuel Church shooting in Charleston, S.C. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

A shocking act of racially motivated violence that could have divided a city is profiled in the new documentary Emanuel, premiering in theaters June 17 and 19 as a Fathom Events presentation. The film, executive produced by Stephen Curry and Viola Davis and co-produced by Mariska Hargitay, centers on the shooting deaths of nine church members at the Emanuel AME Church during a prayer meeting in 2015. The film features interviews with family members of victims as well as Polly Sheppard, a survivor whose life was spared.

In a stunning twist to the tragic story, the family members spoke to Roof during the bond hearing two days later, offering forgiveness. Sheppard, who was initially reluctant to do the film because of the memories it might provoke, hopes that viewers will see the power of a community coming together and healing after such a devastating loss.

“After the shooting, I saw a lot of togetherness,” she said. “Everybody hugging and kissing each other. No differences. You didn’t see any difference in race or anything. There was a calmness. Other cities would burn, rioting, we didn’t have any of that. It was a close-knit community.”

During the shooting, Roof approached Sheppard, but decided to leave her alive to “tell the story.” Sheppard said he “was saying his life was over and that he was going to shoot himself, but he never did.” He pointed the gun at the floor near her and clicked it twice, but nothing came out.

“I thought maybe the gun was empty,” she said. “But we found out in court it wasn’t empty. There were two more bullets in there.”

The entire evening was “different than anything I’ve ever seen,” she said, adding that the events unfolded very quickly and it was strangely quiet.

“I know God had to be in that room with us, even though He took some of us,” she said. “He left me to finish what I gotta’ do.”

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SOURCE: Charisma News, Dewayne Hamby