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Community Helps Nine Recently Orphaned Kids Raise Money To Bury Mom Murdered By White Man

Community Helps Nine Recently Orphaned Kids Raise Money To Bury Mom Murdered By White Man

A South Carolina family of a deceased mother of nine is seeking financial assistance from the community after the woman was fatally shot in the chest and her next-door neighbor was arrested for the crime. The public is being asked to contribute to funeral expenses through a fundraiser.

Kesha Luwan Lucille Tate was killed by a stray bullet from the gunplay on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 30, while Nicholas Sklyar Lucas was conducting target practice in the yard of his Gaffney, South Carolina, home, according to authorities. According to WHNS, when she heard shots being fired, she went to look out the window to see what was going on.

It was then that one of Lucas’ bullets struck the mother and grandmother in the chest.

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Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived at the home on Songbird Lane around 6:30 p.m. and attempted to check Tate’s vital signs. She was deafeningly silent.

The Cherokee County coroner pronounced the 42-year-old deceased at the scene.

The CCSO immediately began an investigation, interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence throughout the night. Finally, around 2:53 a.m., Lucas was identified as a person of interest, suspected of being the shooter.

Tate’s death, according to Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller, was “senseless.”

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“This is a senseless death that could have been avoided if the gun owner had been responsible and chosen a safer place to target practice,” Mueller said, before adding, “It’s mind-boggling that a person thinks it’s okay to target practice or discharge a gun within close proximity to so many other homes in a neighborhood.”

Lucas was initially arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and shooting under the influence after allegedly confessing to law enforcement that the single bullet ricocheted during his target practice.

These charges were upgraded to murder and discharging a weapon into a dwelling on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Authorities determined that the bullet could not have ricocheted as previously stated.

According to WHNS, “the only way the victim could have been struck was for the shooter to turn and intentionally fire in that direction.”

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The bereaved family is now preparing for Tate’s funeral and attempting to pick up the pieces.

Tate’s sister, Beverly Vercher, said her children are “literally devastated.”

“Especially those who witnessed it,” Vercher explained. “They were all there, but the older ones were in the room and saw it.”

This is the children’s second major trauma in less than a year. On Thanksgiving 2021, the father of the children was murdered. Tate was the sole parent of the brood, which included a 4-year-old, according to WYFF4.com.

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“We have nine children who have lost their mother,” the sheriff explained. “And that hurts as a father and as a sheriff.”

Because of the unexpected death, the family has turned to crowdfunding to help them pay for funeral services.

Traleekia Tate created the GoFundMe page in the hopes of raising $6,000. The community rose to the occasion and exceeded the goal in four days. The family has raised over $10,000 through the platform with less than 200 contributors. Traleekia also posted her cash app information: $Josiahmommy94, implying that the family received money directly.

Independent of the family’s efforts, community organizations have pitched in to raise funds. Two businesses, a salon and a restaurant, have stepped up to assist.

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The family is focused not only on Tate’s “celebration of life,” but also on ensuring justice is served.

“We’re hoping that the justice system takes this seriously and realizes that he took a mother away from her children,” the sister said.

The CCSO is still investigating the shooting and collaborating with the family.

“Do you trust me, and do you trust my investigators to do their jobs?” Mueller said he asked the family.

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“Both of the sisters and brothers who sat with me. “They said, ‘Sheriff, we trust you, and we want them to do their job,’ and that’s exactly what happened,” the chief cop explained.

The new charges ensure that Lucas will stand trial for Ms. Tate’s murder. This week, his bond was denied.

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