Clarendon County community relying on faith for hope, healing following graduation party mass shooting
CLARENDON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - The grief continues in the small town of Summerton where Audrionna Kind’s life was cut short Saturday as she was shot and killed at a high school graduation party that she hosted for the community at her home.
Seven others were injured in the shooting, including Kind’s 12-year-old son.
The town, which is a home to a number of historic churches, is now relying on their faith to push them through this dark time.
“We all felt that unity of purpose that we need to move forward as a community to work together,” Billy Carlisle, the pastor of Summerton Baptist Church, said. “And so, there’s been a great stir, and I do believe it comes from God.”
Carlisle said the event shocked the entire grief-stricken community.
“When you grow up in a little small town, you almost feel guarded, that there’s a safety factor that we feel here because we’re so small and we know each other,” he said. “And so, this has been such a shock that that safety factor that we have felt for all of these years has been severed.”
As the town looks to heal, Carlisle said the tragedy has galvanized the community and strengthened its resolve.
He said he’s taken several calls per day with other faith leaders talking about ways to bring about change, healing and hope.
One of the first steps in that process is a prayer meeting at Liberty Hill AME Church in Summerton. The vigil will take place on Wednesday, June 15 at 7:30 P.M.
“Looking forward to that gathering with some other pastors and churches in our community, and continue the conversation about those next steps, and looking forward to doing more in our community, creating more times of gatherings together so we can break down some of these divides that we have,” Carlisle said.
This comes on the heels of an initial prayer meeting that was held less than 24 hours after the shooting.
Carlisle said one of Kind’s sons, who was also shot in incident, was there.
“He was here Sunday night for our prayer time and still numb and hurting from that loss and it’s just so sad to see so it hit home,” he said. “Some of our church members were his teacher and his sister’s teacher. And so, our heart continues to go out for them. And we want to provide a safer environment for them and their family and this entire community.”
In 2014, Carlisle said some church members started up a ministry in the community called Impact Summerton. He said Tutu Kind, as she was lovingly called, would often bring her family to worship at these gatherings. Carlisle said she was a sweet, loving mom.
“It hurts to know that she’s not here anymore,” he said.
As Carlisle encourages the community to push through with prayer, he also encourages them to push through with peace.
“We don’t have to live divided,” he said. “We can live together in community, in harmony in this little community and that’s what I believe God has for us.”
WIS reached out to the McLeod Health Clarendon hospital for an update on the conditions of the other seven victims and were directed to the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office said deputies are actively working on the case but declined to provide further comment.
Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact their office directly at 803-435-4414.
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