CHARLESTON— A U.S. city still in shock over the massacre of nine African-American worshippers inside a church more than a week ago is hoping for some consolation Friday from a visit by President Barack Obama.
Obama is to deliver the eulogy for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
The funeral, to be held at the College of Charleston TD Arena in downtown Charleston, was scheduled to start at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT).
Hundreds of mourners began lining up outside a large public arena Friday several blocks from the church where the shooting took place.
Police have closed off much of the center of this historic port city, with crowds expected to far exceed the 5,400-seating capacity of the venue.
The first two funerals, for Ethel Lance and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, were held Thursday amid tight security.
On Thursday night, a wake was held inside the Emanuel AME church for Pinckney, who was 41 and the father of two children. Thousands of mourners come to pay their last respects, with a line snaking for three blocks.
Members of two predominantly black motorcycle clubs, Band of Bruthaz and Wheels of Soul, were also there in black leather jackets, one club member holding a bunch of roses
A member who gave his name as Jody said he hoped the peaceful response to the racially motivated shooting would send a message to other parts of the country.
“Charleston has come together, better than we ever known,” he said. “Charleston is a tough place. We went through a lot but, hey, we’ll make it through this one.”
He called Obama’s appearance on Friday “a lovely thing.”
The president knew Pinckney and visited the Emanuel AME church during his 2008 campaign. Obama’s wife, Michelle, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, will also be in attendance at the funeral.
Following the service for Pinckney, the president is expected to meet privately with the families of other victims.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is also a Democratic presidential nominee for 2016, will also be attending.
The shootings took place June 17 during a Bible study at the church.