NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Singing hymns and choking back tears, about 2,000 people gathered Saturday for the funeral of a mother and her four children who police say were gunned down by her husband.

“Where does it end? Where does this mess end? Where does this nonsense end?” the Rev. Anthony Kowbeidu asked the congregation gathered at the North Charleston Coliseum.

Everyone is asking those questions after a spate of violence across the nation, including the slayings at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, he said.

On Sept. 30, police found the bodies of Detra Rainey, 39, and her children William Rainey, 16, Hakiem Rainey, 13, Malachi Robinson, 8, and Samenia Robinson, 6, in their North Charleston home.

Michael Simmons, 41, who had been married to Detra Rainey for a little more than a year, is being held on five counts of murder. Police said the slayings were the result of a domestic dispute.

“God’s heart was the first of all hearts to break,” Kowbeidu said. “Please know this afternoon that God is crying with us; God is hurting with us; God is grieving with us.”

During the viewing, the five white coffins were lined up in front of the altar at one end of the coliseum. There were stuffed animals – among them a horse and a teddy bear – in the children’s coffins. The coffins were then closed.

The choir sang hymns including “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” On one side of the coliseum, about a dozen boys sat wearing the gold and black football jerseys of West Ashley Middle School, where Hakiem Rainey played football.

Detra Rainey’s 21-year-old son, Christan Rainey, who was not at the home at the time of the shootings, fought back tears as he described how he spoke to his family and how his mother told him she loved him shortly before their deaths.

“I love y’all,” he said. “I know you’re in God’s hands now and I don’t have anything to worry about.”

AP-ES-10-07-06 1907EDT


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