A Black mother of nine was shot and killed last weekend in Gaffney, South Carolina, by an allegedly intoxicated white man who said he was shooting at items on his property and simply missed during what local news outlet WCSC referred to as “target practice.” The police initially believed his story and charged him with involuntary manslaughter. But new evidence emerged, according to local law enforcement, and on Tuesday, the charge was upgraded to murder.
WYFF 4 reported that 42-year-old Kesha Tate was walking to her kitchen to make dinner for one of her children on Saturday when she heard gunshots outside of her home and went to her glass back door to see what was going on, according to her family. Moments later, she was shot dead in front of her children by 30-year-old Nicholas Skyler Lucas, who was shooting at targets in his backyard.
“They had to literally peel the kids off of their mother,” said Markia Tate, a member of Kesha’s family.
“For him to endanger all these children’s lives—we’re not going to stand by for involuntary manslaughter,” Beverly Vercher, Tate’s sister, said.
Well, it turns out the family won’t have to stand for the lesser charge because Lucas’ original charges of involuntary manslaughter and shooting under the influence have now been changed to murder, discharging a firearm into a dwelling, and shooting under the influence, according to WSPA 7 News.
“It was a complete accident,” Lucas claimed in court Tuesday. “I don’t understand why anyone would ever think that I was out to get that woman, or whatever they think.”
Well, here’s why…
“The only way the victim could have been struck was for the shooter to turn and intentionally fire in that direction,” said Sheriff Steve Mueller, whose office said forensic evidence indicated that the bullet that killed Tate was shot directly at her and did not ricochet from a target Lucas was supposedly practicing on. “We believe based on the forensic work that was done by our team that we can clearly say this was not an accident, that it was not a ricochet.”
“People can easily be untruthful or leave out pertinent details when speaking with investigators but the forensic evidence cannot lie and it’s the evidence that speaks justice for the victim of a crime,” Mueller continued.
And that, my friends, is why cops shouldn’t just be taking “Whoops, my bad” at face value when a gunman shoots and kills an unarmed victim. Of course, we can only speculate that a Black man who shot a white woman in front of her white children would’ve been charged more aggressively on the spot regardless of his claim that it was accidental. (But America being America, we know that speculation isn’t, by any means, far-fetched.)
Even if Lucas’ side of the story is true, it still means a Black family is shattered because of a white American’s gun fetish.
“Tate’s family says she had children as young as four years old at home at the time,” WYFF reported. “According to her sisters, her last words to the kids were: ‘Go get help. I love y’all.’”
“She has babies, her youngest is 4 and she has a grandbaby,” Beverly Vercher, Tate’s sister, told 7 News. “They don’t understand what’s going on.”
To make things even more tragic, the family said Tate’s husband and father of her children died suddenly of a heart attack last Thanksgiving. Imagine witnessing your mother’s violent death less than a year after your father died. My heart bleeds for this family.
Tate’s family has launched a GoFundMe account to help cover her funeral expenses.