Man charged with 12 counts of attempted murder in cemetery attack

A 64-year-old man has been charged with 12 counts of attempted murder after police say he drove his car into a crowd of mourners at the Greenlawn cemetery.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Columbia police have charged a man with attempted murder after they say he intentionally hit 12 mourners with a car at a Columbia cemetery.

Officers said late Wednesday night that 64-year-old James Kester is facing a total 12 counts of the charge.

Police say the victims, who were all part of the same family, were attending a graveside service at Greenlawn Cemetery, located on Garners Ferry Road, when they were struck by a Sedan.

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Police say while they believe the suspect meant to do what he did, they're still working to determine a motive. They also say at this point, there's no indication Kester knew the victim.

He'll have a bond hearing Thursday afternoon.

The victims all had what are described as non life-threatening injuries, although one victim's injuries were said to be "serious." The victims were taken to the hospital for treatment.

They ranged in age from 78 to 11 years old.

"I am so fortunate that there were no serious injuries," said Deputy Columbia Police Chief Melron Kelly.

VIDEO: Drone shows scene of where car hit family at Columbia funeral 

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Five of the patients went to Palmetto Health Richland, while seven went to Palmetto Health Baptist. All seven patients at Palmetto Health Baptist have been discharged, while five victims remain hospitalized at Palmetto Health Richland.

The person for whom the funeral was being held was buried, officials with the cemetery say. The general manager of Greenlawn Memorial Park sent News 19 a statement from the victims' family: "...They do, however, appreciate all the thoughts and prayers being offered on their behalf. For those wishing to send cards and well wishes, please direct those to the memorial park office in an effort to protect the family's privacy at this time."

Greenlawn was closed for the day, but will reopen at 8 a.m. Thursday. 

 

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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