Funeral set for teen fatally shot at The Peach Stand

Photo courtesy Christy G. Photography
Photo courtesy Christy G. Photography
Photo provided to WBTV courtesy of family members.
Photo provided to WBTV courtesy of family members.
(Kristi O'Connor/WBTV)
(Kristi O'Connor/WBTV)
Christopher Benjamin Mendez (Source: Fort Mill Police)
Christopher Benjamin Mendez (Source: Fort Mill Police)

YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - The funeral arrangements are set for a 19-year-old Rock Hill girl who was shot and killed inside the landmark Peach Stand Tuesday afternoon.

Karson Bailey Whitesell was shot just before 4:30 p.m. at the Peach Stand on Highway 160 in Fort Mill, officials say. Whitesell died at the scene, the coroner said.

Her funeral will be held at the Illumine Church on Riverchase Boulevard in Rock Hill at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Reverend Kent Reeder will be officiating the funeral. According to the Greene Funeral Home's website, Whitesell's burial will be private.

Family and friends are expected to gather at the church at 6 p.m. Friday night.

The man accused of shooting and killing the teenage girl was identified by police as 28-year-old Christopher Benjamin Mendez.

According to the Fort Mill Police Department, Mendez went into the Peach Stand and shot Whitesell, ultimately killing her. Mendez then reportedly waited at the scene until officers arrived.

Whitesell worked at the Peach Stand as a cashier.

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Officers have not said what may have led to the shooting. According to Whitesell's mother, the shooting was random.

Police say the shooting was not a domestic violence incident and was not an armed robbery attempt. Officers said Whitesell and Mendez did not know each other.

"Karson was a beautiful light in this dark world. She had a heart of service and loved God, her family, and friends fiercely," Whitesell's parents said Wednesday. "Everyone that knew Karson loved her. She will be missed by her family and all of the community. We appreciate your prayers and support during this difficult time."

The Peach Stand released a statement Tuesday night addressing the incident and extending their condolences:

"All of us at the Peach Stand are shocked and heartbroken over this senseless act of violence, and our thoughts are with the victim's family and everyone affected. We are working closely with authorities to assist in their investigation, and ask that you please contact Fort Mill Police for information."

The Peach Stand was closed Wednesday and Thursday, a spokesperson for the business said.

Autopsy and toxicology results are pending, the coroner said.

On Thursday Goodwill, where Mendez worked, released a statement.

We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and our condolences go out to Ms. Whitesell's family and loved ones.

Mendez was taken to the Fort Mill Police Department. He was charged with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. Bond was denied on both charges.

He is being held at the York County Detention Center.

Neighbors of Mendez said he was polite and quiet.

Dozens of bouquets of flowers are being laid outside the business' doors in honor of Whitesell. A candlelight vigil was held outside the Peach Stand at 7 p.m. Thursday night.  Nearly 100 people came holding candles and flowers to remember Whitesell, who has been described as a "beautiful light in this dark world."

Whitesell's friend Savannah Belue said that they did everything together and were not only classmates, but also best friends.

"She was so funny, she was outgoing, she was lovely. She was probably the nicest person you'd probably ever meet, at South Pointe or anywhere," Belue said.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent here.

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