Though only 19, Karson Whitesell will leave a lasting legacy in York County, her friends and family say.
Whitesell made a difference in the community by bringing people together, said her pastor at Illumine Church, Kent Reeder, during a vigil Thursday night in honor of Whitesell, who was killed in Tuesday’s shooting at the Peach Stand in Fort Mill.
“One of Karson’s gifts was connecting to people and caring about people,” Reeder said.
She was still connecting the community Thursday night, he said.
More than 500 people gathered at the Peach Stand to remember Whitesell, who was killed in what police say was a “random” attack.
Whitesell’s mother, Debbie, thanked the crowd for supporting the family the last 48 hours.
“Our daughter was a beautiful person inside and out,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman of Rock Hill attended the vigil as well, coming from the York County Opioid Summit where another recent York County death was noted. Sheriff’s Det. Mike Doty, who was shot and later died after responding to a domestic violence call in which three other officers were injured, had been scheduled to speak at the summit.
Norman said the recent violence in York County is hard to understand.
“It’s just senseless,” Norman said. “It’s hard to make heads or tails of it.”
Fort Mill Police Chief Jeff Helms said he and many officers were attending the vigil not to work, but to support the Whitesell family, the same way the community has supported law enforcement officials after Doty’s death.
“It’s just been overwhelming and tragic and sad,” Helms said.
Reeder said something “ugly and horrible” happened Tuesday.
But Thursday night, Reeder said, the community came together in a powerful way for something “beautiful and hopeful.”