Woman with CWP may have prevented further violence in funeral incident

Woman with CWP may have prevented further violence in funeral incident

When Columbia police arrived at the scene of a shocking attack on mourners at a graveside funeral, they found one of the mourners had taken steps to prevent more violence.

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - James Kester, 64, has been charged with 12 counts of attempted murder, accused of deliberately driving his car into a crowd of people at Greenlawn Memorial Park Wednesday afternoon.

Sources familiar with the incident say one of the mourners, a woman who has a concealed weapons permit, went to get her gun and had it with her after Kester’s car stopped moving.

Witnesses say prior to that, Kester appeared to be trying to turn the car around or back up for a second run into the crowd.

A CPD spokeswoman says it is not clear whether Kester was aware the woman had a weapon. Spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons says the mourner’s CWP was valid.  

Police say Kester carried out the attack because he had a longstanding grudge against the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, which he said had prevented him from seeing his daughter following her treatment.

The funeral was being held for a former DMH employee, Margaret Livingston.

Investigators say Kester did not know Livingston or her family, but information about her work background had been included in her published obituary.

A number of current or former DMH employees had been attending the funeral.

Kester is being held on a $5 million bond.

A fundraiser has been established for the victims of this incident. If you wish to contribute, click here.

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