At a barbershop in Pearland, the work is nonstop for Daryl Green.

But he's had to pause—to reflect and grieve.

"This was my friend, man, this was my friend, my true friend like a brother," Green said.

Green knew the late Reverend Clementa Pinckney simply as Clem, who died after a gunman entered a South Carolina church and opened fire Wednesday evening. Green and Pinckney were classmates at Jasper County High School in Ridgeland, S.C., where Green was the new kid in town.

"He approached me and introduced himself, because I didn't have any family or friends at that school," Green said.

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That was Pinckney's nature, Green said—a giver, a listener and a leader. Classmates named him class president four years in a row and voted him "most likely to succeed" his senior year in 1991.

And faith, Green said, was Pinckney's compass early on.

[ID=29006107]"Clem prayed with us, he prayed with our football team, basketball team, everything, you know he was like the school minister in a sense," Green said.

At the barbershop, they're now trying to make sense of the senseless—Pinckney and eight others shot dead during bible study in his church.

"Church is home; church is God's house," said customer James Green.

"If you can't be safe in church praying to God, where can you be safe?" added customer James Monroe.

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Amid the buzz of haircuts a thousand miles away, the pain is real, and the emotions raw.

"It's devastating," Green said.

And the question lingers: When it comes to race relations, how will our nation move forward?

"I hope this tragedy, as America, brings us together in a better way," Green said.

That is what his high school friend Clem would want.