Tim Scott chokes up on Senate floor remembering shooting victims

Updated 2:52 PM EDT, Thu June 25, 2015
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(CNN) —  

Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, teared up while delivering an emotional speech on the events in his home state on Wednesday.

Nine African-American church parishioners were murdered by 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who is white, last week at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

Scott, the only African-American Senator elected in the South since Reconstruction, said the son of one of the victims told him in a phone conversation moments before that despite the shootings, “God cares for this people. God still lives.”

And the victims’ son then said with enthusiasm that “this evil attack would lead to reconciliation, restoration, and unity in the nation.”

RELATED: Confederate flag debate sweeps the South

That remark cause Scott to pause for about 30 seconds and fight back tears before resuming.

Scott and other South Carolina lawmakers, led by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, have unified in their support for removing the Confederate flag from the state’s capitol grounds in Columbia. The move was prompted by photos of Roof posing with Confederate flags in pictures on social media. Companies such as Walmart, Amazon and eBay have also stopped selling merchandise featuring the flag as a result of the shooting.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, spoke after Scott on the Senate floor. He praised his colleague for his handling of the Charleston situation and thanked the Senate family for his support.

He then made this comment about the shooter, who spent an hour in Bible study with his victims before shoorting them.

“I don’t know how you can sit with somebody for an hour in a church and then get up and shoot them. That’s Mideast hate,” said Graham, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination. “That’s something I didn’t think we had here, but apparently we do.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece misstated that Scott is the only African-American Senator.