Hillary Clinton said Thursday that news of the shooting that killed nine people in a Charleston church Wednesday night "broke my heart," calling on the country to face "hard truths" about race relations and gun violence in America.
"The shock and pain of this crime of hate strikes deep," she said to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Las Vegas. "Nine people, women and men. Cut down at prayer, murdered in a house of God. It just broke my heart."
Clinton just came from the Charleston area: She spent Wednesday afternoon speaking about her plan for youth apprenticeships at a local technical school in North Charleston. She said she heard about the shooting when she arrived in Las Vegas that night.
"It was such a positive, upbeat, optimistic event "¦ I left feeling not only great about Charleston, but great about America," she said. "When I got to Las Vegas, I learned about the horrific massacre in the church."
Calling a church "the last place we should ever see violence," Clinton said the country needs to have an "honest" conversation about issues of race relations and gun violence.
"In order to make sense of it, we have to be honest—we have to face hard truths about race, violence, guns, and division," she said. "Today we join our hearts, the people of Charleston and South Carolina, people everywhere, pray for the victims, pray for the families, pray for a community that knows too much sorrow. And we pray for justice."
"How many innocent people in our country—little children to church members to movie theater attendees—how many people do we need to see cut down before we act?" Clinton continued. "So as we mourn and as our hearts break a little more, and as we send this message of solidarity that we will not forsake those who have been victimized by gun violence, this time we have to find answers together."
The comments come just a day after Clinton spoke by phone with the family of Walter Scott, a black man shot and killed by a police officer in North Charleston earlier this year.
This story has been updated to clarify where Walter Scott was shot.