A man who police have charged with attempted murder on allegations that he plowed through a cemetery graveside service with his car injuring a dozen will go before a judge Thursday.
James Kester, 64, is facing 12 counts of attempted murder for “intentionally driving his car” through a graveside service on Wednesday at the Greenlawn Memorial Park off Leesburg Road in Columbia, the Columbia Police Department stated in a news release. Kester’s bond hearing will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday.
A motive for Kester’s actions has not been determined, the release stated. He is being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.
The ages of the 12 who were injured range between 11 and 78 years old. They were treated at Palmetto Health Richland and Palmetto Health Baptist for non-life threatening injuries.
The incident Kester is accused of took place around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“It’s so fortunate there were no serious injuries,” said Columbia Police Department Deputy Chief Melron Kelly. “We have some people with some bruises and as a precaution some were transported to the hospital.”
The incident took place in a section of the cemetery near Asbury United Methodist Church.
The burial under way at the time of the incident was completed after about a two-hour delay, said Suzanne Eklins, general manager of Greenlawn Memorial Park. “The prayer and burial was completed with family members and others not injured in the incident,” she said.
The funeral that Kester is accused of interrupting is that of Sumter resident Margaret Livingston, 70. Livingston died Sunday, according to her obituary. Police said there is no indication Kester was acquainted with Livingston’s family.
Livingston was a graduate of Cardinal Newman High School, and attended Lander University and Palmer Junior College. She retired after working for more than 30 years as an administrative assistant at the S.C. Department of Mental Health, the obituary stated.
After the incident, the cemetery, which normally is open to people wishing to visit burial sites 24 hours a day, was closed until 8 a.m. Thursday. All burials scheduled for Thursday will go forward as planned, Elkins said.