$5 million bond set for man who drove into graveside service

James Kester, 64 [source: Cola Police Department]

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – 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.

James Kester appeared in court Thursday morning. According to the Cola Police Department, his bond has been set at $5 million.

Authorities say they believe Kester intentionally hit mourners with his car during a service Wednesday at Greenlawn Cemetery because of a grudge he had with the Department of Mental Health (DMH).

According to Kester, he had a long standing “dislike” against the DMH.

Kester claimed the DMH would not let him see his now deceased daughter for several hundred days.

Police at the memorial in Greenlawn Cemetary [source: Cola Police Department]
Investigators identified the woman being buried as Margaret Livingston, who was a DMH employee for more than 30 years.

Family members said in court that Kester drove up to the graveside service and asked whose funeral it was. He then rolled up his window and drove into them.

Television footage showed a car stopped in the middle of dozens of graves.

“We were all petrified, one family member said. “He hit the curb and he gunned it.”

Deputy Police Chief Melron Kelly says 12 people were struck but none of the injuries appeared to be life threatening.

Despite the family asking the judge to deny, Kester’s bond is set at $5 million.

Should Kester bond out of jail, he will not have contact with Margaret Livingston’s family. He has been ordered not to drive and will wear a GPS monitor.

While officers think Kester targeted the funeral over a grudge, they do not believe that he knew the family members.

A cousin said six family members are still in the hospital and are having surgery. One is in intensive care with a head injury.

The victims ranged in age from 78 to 11 years old.

Attributes: AP, WIS

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