A judge set bond at $5 million Thursday for a man accused of intentionally hitting twelve people with his car at a graveside service in Columbia.
64-year-old James Kester is charged with 12 counts of attempted murder for each of the mourners injured as the funeral concluded Wednesday at Greenlawn Memorial Park, a large cemetery in the city’s southeast. None of the injuries were life-threatening, according to area hospitals. However, The State newspaper reports one patient was in an intensive care unit.
During his bond hearing, Kester said he attacked the attendees because he was displeased with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (DMH). Kester said the agency would not allow him to see his daughter for nearly two years during her treatment. Wednesday’s burial services were for a former DMH administrative assistant.
Kester said he read about the deceased’s former job in her obituary and tracked down the burial at Greenlawn. Police do not believe he knew the employee or her family personally.
South Carolina Radio Network is not naming the former employee, since several members of her family are victims of Kester’s actions.