Bluffton woman killed in shooting was mother of 5, ‘a bright light in this world’

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Rasheda Vanessa Kelson, known as Nessa to her friends, was “an amazing mom” to her five children, according to family friend Hannah Sanderson.

“Nessa didn’t deserve to leave this earth this way,” Sanderson said. “She was a bright light in this world. Her children didn’t deserve this.”

The 42-year-old Bluffton resident died of multiple gunshot wounds Saturday morning after being shot on Thomas Road in Hardeeville.

Simon Atkinson, a 57-year-old Bluffton resident who Sanderson said is Kelson’s ex-boyfriend, was arrested Saturday morning and charged with her murder, along with possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

He is being held in the Jasper County Detention Center.

According to Lt. Jonah Jenkins with the Hardeeville Police Department, the shooting was an isolated incident, and police are not looking for other suspects.

Following her unexpected death Saturday, community members are raising money for those children in a GoFundMe titled “Support the tragic loss of Vanessa Kelson.”

Sanderson said it had been a hard year for Kelson and her children — Tye, Derrick, Eric, Diamond and Trevon — even prior to her death. In the spring, their father died of a motorcycle accident, and Kelson “fell very ill” shortly after.

“She was just starting to be happy again,” Sanderson said.

She added that the family is currently making final funeral arrangements for Kelson and plans to hold a service Tuesday.