After the shooting death of a 19-year-old cashier at the iconic Peach Stand in Fort Mill, friends and family remembered her as a caring friend and a talented artist.
Karson Whitesell of Rock Hill had worked at The Peach Stand since 2016, general manager Ron Edwards said. He called her an “extraordinary young woman” in a statement Wednesday.
Just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, Whitesell was shot and killed in the Peach Stand, crowded with customers.
Christopher Benjamin Mendez has been charged with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, in Whitesell’s death, police said Wednesday.
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Arrest warrants were served late Wednesday afternoon, Fort Mill police Maj. Bryan Zachary said in a release. A bond hearing was conducted afterward, and bond was denied on both charges.
Mendez was to be transferred to the York County Detention Center, Zachary said.
The Peach Stand is closed Wednesday and Thursday after Whitesell's death.
Friends said Whitesell was “bubbly” and always kind.
“She would do anything for you,” Whitesell’s friend, Stevie Herd, said in a Facebook message. “She loved to make others laugh, and she just always seemed to be happy. She was truly an amazing person who did not deserve to leave this world like this.”
Destini Jayla said she has been friends with Whitesell since high school. Whitesell went to South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, and graduated in 2016, according to her Facebook profile.
“Karson was beautiful inside and out,” Jayla said in a Facebook message. “She cared so much about the ones she loved. She is so talented, and I knew one day that her talent and passion for art would take her somewhere.”
Jayla said she and Whitesell texted each other in a group message with high school friends almost every day. Jayla said Whitesell, who loved painting, would send the group her newest creations.
“She made an impact on everyone she’s crossed paths with, and we’re all going to miss her dearly,” she said.
According to her blog, Whitesell spent the summer volunteering in Swaziland and South Africa.
Herd said Whitesell loved the volunteer trip “because she always wanted to make a change in the world."
Whitesell’s friends said her faith was very important to her.
“She was always smiling and making jokes and laughing all the time, and her love for God was so beautiful,” Jayla said.
Edwards stopped by the closed store shortly before noon Wednesday.
“I just came out to speak on Karson’s behalf, and tell the public what a great girl she was and a great co-worker,” Edwards said.
The Peach Stand is bringing in counselors to speak to Whitesell’s co-workers, he said.
“She comes from good people, salt of the earth people . . . a good family,” Edwards said. “It’s just so tragic that her life was taken like that.”
Hannah Smoot: 803-329-4068