SUMMERVILLE — It took some time for the family of the woman who was killed at a stoplight three days before Easter to gather the strength to talk about her to a stranger.
But once they got going, surrounded by a lifetime of memories in the living room of their home, the words gushed out, along with the tears. Lynn Harrison, 57, was fatally shot by a man in traffic.
He pulled out a rifle and started shooting at random. She was hit in the neck through the driver’s side window and died at the scene.
Family photo albums are stacked in piles under the living room coffee table.
She was married to James Harrison, a Vietnam War Army veteran and construction supervisor. Her daughter is Shanna Groves, 34, who takes care of her two boys, 14-year-old AJ and 8-year-old Cody. Her son is James Harrison II, a forklift operator.
Easter was always special.
“We always went to church Easter morning, and then we’d come back here and make a big Easter dinner,” Groves said. “She always prayed, ‘Thank you, Lord, for my family and for the time we have together.’ ”
Her time was cut short by Jimi Redman, 32, an Army veteran who claims he snapped because of a head injury he got in Iraq or Afghanistan. Redman drove from Forth Worth, Texas, possibly looking for an old friend somewhere in South Carolina, according to his brother. For reasons nobody has heard yet, he shot Harrison through the window of her SUV at a stoplight near Trolley and Bacons Bridge roads. Police said they arrested him as he was returning to the scene. Harrison told her family in advance that she didn’t want to be buried, didn’t like the idea of people crying over a cold gravestone. They planted a small magnolia tree in the front yard and named it Lynn Lynn, her husband’s pet nickname for her.
Scores of her friends turned out for a memorial service Thursday night at Northwood Church, a big congregation where she felt compelled to serve as a greeter, even though her family called her naturally shy. The sanctuary holds 1,400 people, and she was mentioned in prayer during all three services Easter morning.
She was well-liked by her co-workers at McKessan, where she worked in medical billing for more than a decade. Colleagues sent over a constant convoy of food in the days after her death.
Harrison would have been at work the day she was shot if she had not just gotten out of the hospital with stomach issues. She felt bad about it.
“She just kept saying, ‘I can’t miss work. I can’t let all my other girls handle this by themselves. I need to be there to help them,’ ” Groves said.
She was coming from her house off U.S. Highway 78 to meet her son for lunch at Costillo’s when she was shot. Her son works the night shift and made a point to meet her for lunch at least once a week.
“I remember her taking me to day care, crying whenever she left,” he said. “I remember her driving me to school every day in fourth grade. It was the only year of elementary school I didn’t ride the bus. I remember her teaching me how to drive. I remember my high school graduation. I’ve got 26 years of memories.”
She met her husband more than 30 years ago at the Lazy B Lounge on Dorchester Road. He sipped Coke and Crown Royal to keep himself together as he talked about her.
“She used to like to slow dance, country dances,” he said. “She kind of started flirting with me, and I went over and asked her to dance. That’s how it started.”
Her children forced themselves to go to church Easter morning, without their mother.
“It was hard,” Groves said.
It’s going to be even harder if they have to face Redman in court again next week. His lawyer is asking a circuit judge for another shot at bail. A second bond hearing is tentatively set for Thursday morning in St. George. Last time in bond court Redman was on the other end of a video feed in Summerville, and even then their father had to be restrained.
“We haven’t even had time to heal, and now we have to go through it again,” Groves said. “And this time we will be in the same room.”