Life After A Mass Shooting: Triad Man Remembers Cousin Killed In Charleston

Life After A Mass Shooting

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A lot of people are still trying to wrap their minds around the mass shooting in Las Vegas, including Ward Miller of Winston-Salem.

"It's just mind boggling," he says of the massacre. 

It's tough for him to see all the pain in Las Vegas and not think about the hand he was dealt about two years ago.

"We called his cell phone, we called his home," he recalls. "We called everywhere and we all had this very low-blow gut reaction.  We know where Dan is."

Miller's cousin, Reverend Daniel Simmons, was like a brother to him.  He was killed at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston about two years ago.  He was one of 9 people Dylann Roof is accused of gunning down during bible study that day.

"At the beginning you're not thinking about forgiveness grace and mercy at that time. You hurt and you wonder why did it have to happen? And why did it have to happen to your relative as opposed to anybody else?"

But over time, he's become less numb.  With family, prayer, and time to grieve, Miller has found peace.

"The night before he died he called my wife and I..." he shares.

It went to voicemail, but it's a message he wouldn't find until days after his cousin's death.

"I listen to it every once in a while. It brings me joy because - to hear his voice.  He has this raspy, very gruffy voice."

Miller says it was like a gift from God; a piece of the past worth holding on to, so he can let go of all the hate.

Miller says the number one thing his family needed after his cousin's passing was time to grieve.  His murder is something they'll never get over, but it's something his family has adjusted to. 

And when people ask about his cousin, he likes to focus on the positive things, like his voice and his smile.

Roof was convicted for Simmons' murder and the 8 others killed at the church after a trial in 2016.  He was sentenced to death.

© 2017 WFMY-TV


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