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Debra Meyers (center) locks arm with friends and neighbors of Timothy Haman Jr. in front of his home on Hanover Street during a vigil Sunday August 11, 2019, in Charleston. Gavin McIntyre/ Staff

There was a bit of a lull at the end of Sunday evening's vigil honoring 41-year-old Timothy Haman Jr.

He wasn't religious, and neighbors said he had specifically asked not to be prayed for. 

Mayor John Tecklenburg knew how to fill the silence. Standing at the spot where Haman was shot and killed outside his apartment on Hanover and Columbus Street exactly 72 hours earlier, he began to sing. 

Soon, the dozens in attendance joined him in a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace and joined hands in an evening focused on decrying hate and violence on the East Side streets of the city. 

"It doesn't matter, Jew, Muslim, Christian, black, white, red, yellow, brown, we're all God's children," Tecklenburg said. "We are all precious in His sight. And folks, I don't know where we as a society stepped off a wrong path where children and young people come along and they don't have any respect for the precious nature of human life that God has given us all."

Haman's family lives mostly in California and couldn't be at Sunday's vigil. And though one neighbor who didn't identify himself spoke to the crowd and said he didn't know Haman that well, it was "senseless" that he's gone.

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Graham Calabria remembers his friend, Timothy Haman Jr., during a vigil Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, in front of his home on Hanover Street in Charleston. Gavin McIntyre/Staff

"Silence is consent. He played with my dog, he seemed like a great guy, and it is a tragic loss that he's gone," the man said through tears, holding a lit candle and speaking to the crowd of onlookers. 

"But Tim was not silent. He would not allow loitering on his stoop, and he would not allow drug dealers in front of his house. If there's anything we can take from Timothy's death, it's that we can't sit back and be silent." 

Video from a neighboring home shows a man and a woman confronting a group of men on bikes in the middle of the street. One man in a dark shirt, jeans and white sneakers pulls a gun from his waistband and aims it at the man and woman. Blocked by the view of the truck, shots ring out toward the man. The suspect then gets on his bicycle and rides off down Hanover Street, shouting obscenities at bystanders. 

The Darling Oyster Bar, where Haman worked as a sous chef, released a statement last week saying its employees “are all heartbroken by this loss.”

No suspects have been identified in Haman's murder. 

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Tim Weber, a neighbor of Timothy Haman Jr., says a few words during a vigil in front of Haman's home on Hanover Street Sunday August 11, 2019, in Charleston. Gavin McIntyre/ Staff

Tecklenburg spoke Sunday to honor Haman, but also with a sense of urgency about the importance of changing the culture around guns, violence and hate not only in Charleston, but across the United States. 

"It's also about turning this culture around where someone has that sense that life is so cheap — 'oh, I don't like what you said' or 'you owe me $20' — so I'm going to pull out a gun and that's the end of your life," he said. "I'm sorry, that's not acceptable here in Charleston. It's just not acceptable."

Police Chief Luther T. Reynolds, who toured the scene of Haman's murder with Tecklenburg last week and promised his department wouldn't rest until an arrest had been made, was angry at times during his remarks Sunday.

Angry, he said, at Haman's tragic death at such a young age, but also at the senselessness of gun violence on the streets of America and how frequently he has to appear at vigils to comfort the family and friends of victims whose deaths could have been prevented.  

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Neighbors, friends and members of the community gather Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, in front of the home of Timothy Haman Jr. on Hanover Street during a vigil in Charleston. Gavin McIntyre/Staff

"It makes me sick," he said. "I think it's important to get angry, it's important to get engaged, it's important for us not to sit here in this one event, at this one time, but to say with our legislature, to say as a local community, to say with the police department that there is accountability for all of us," he said.  

"It never gets easier. It shouldn't have happened, and we need to make sure it doesn't happen again. Never again on this street."  

Latonya Gamble, the neighborhood association president for the East Side Development Corporation, asked vigil attendees to stand next to someone they didn't know in a sign of solidarity and unity. 

"Too much has happened in this neighborhood. Too many lives lost to senseless violence," she said. "I want you to think hard about what kind of positive change we can bring about in this community."

"If we're going to be angry about this, let's be angry in a positive way. Love has no color. It has no color — love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Charleston police and city officials will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium of Trident Technical College’s Palmer Campus, 66 Columbus St., to address Haman's murder and overall public safety issues.

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Candles are lit for Timothy Haman Jr. during a vigil in front of his home Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, on Hanover Street in Charleston. Gavin McIntyre/Staff

And while future discussions about how to make the Charleston community safer are important, Tecklenburg said, it is perhaps the words of the song he closed Sunday's vigil with that best reflect the tone of the evening. 

"T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear, And Grace, my fears relieved."

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Contact Conner Mitchell at 843-958-1336. Follow him on Twitter at @ConnerMitchell0.

Conner Mitchell is a Kansas native covering Berkeley and Dorchester counties for The Post and Courier. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas and has worked previously at the Kansas City Star, Lawrence Journal-World and Palm Beach Post.

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