YORK COUNTY, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - A father whose teenager was murdered at the Peach Stand in Fort Mill earlier this year is now pushing for a law that would require medical professionals to report mental health issues to a database for gun sellers.
“This past year. it’s been tough. It’s been very tough,” said Jason Whitesell, the father of 19-year-old Karson Whitesell.
Jason is trying to prevent another family from having to endure this kind of pain.
In an exclusive interview with Jason Whitesell, Fox 46 Charlotte’s Robin Kanady asked, “Do you think Karson would be alive if he (Christopher Mendez) had not gotten a gun that day?”
“I’ve thought of that a lot. There is a possibility that she would be,” said Whitesell.
Christopher Mendez bought a gun at Cabela’s in Fort Mill, according to prosecutors and went into the Peach Stand one January night in 2018 and killed Jason’s daughter, 19 year old Karson Whitesell.
Mendez pleaded guilty to the murder earlier this week and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“We don’t need to lose any more lives because we’re too scared to look into mental health or address mental health,” Whitesell said.
Seven months before Karson was killed, Solicitor Kevin Brackett says Mendez went to the emergency room telling doctors he was worried he was going to kill himself or someone else.
Doctors admitted him, but 9 days later a judge released him from the hospital, according to prosecutors.
The solicitor says there is absolutely nothing in South Carolina law that requires medical professionals to report a mental health issue like Mendez’s to a database for gun sellers.
In Mendez’s case, the only thing that would have prevented him from getting a gun would have been if a judge had committed him to a mental health facility, Brackett said.
“We’re not looking to infringe upon the rights to be able to own a firearm,” Whitesell said.
He’s pushing lawmakers to do something to help other families.
“I just don’t want any other family to ever have to go through this again.”