Police said Roger Self got into his sport utility vehicle and then drove at high speed into the restaurant
BESSEMER CITY, N.C. — A North Carolina
businessman suffering from severe mental illness left a meal with his
family, got into his sport utility vehicle and then drove at high speed
into the restaurant, killing his daughter and daughter-in-law and critically injuring other relatives, his pastor said Monday.
Self had been treated for depression and anxiety that seemed to become
more intense in the two and a half months preceding Sunday's deadly
crash, said the Rev. Austin Rammell of Venture Church in Dallas, North
Carolina. The pastor, who is a close family friend, said Self opened up
about his problems about 10 weeks ago, when he asked his son to take his
guns away from him.
"His family and close friends have intensely labored to try and get
Roger help. We all feel a level of guilt," the pastor said at a news
The pastor worried that his friend might hurt himself,
but didn't imagine he would hurt his family. Still, he said Self's
judgment had become impaired.
"It's very possible that in his
mind, he was thinking the best thing for this family was that they all
go to heaven together," he said.
The crash sent stunned patrons
scrambling Sunday afternoon at the Surf and Turf Lodge, about 30 miles
(50 kilometers) west of Charlotte.
Self was immediately arrested.
Shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit at a hearing on Monday, he
showed little emotion as he asked for a court-appointed attorney and was
ordered jailed without bond on two charges of first-degree murder.
daughter, Katelyn Self, a deputy with the Gaston County Sheriff's
Office, and his daughter-in-law, Amanda Self, an emergency room nurse,
were killed as the car rammed through the outside wall. Amanda Self was
married to Roger Self's son, Gaston County Police Officer Josh Self.
Self and Roger Self's wife, Diane, were in critical but stable
condition on Monday, said Rammell, who has been in close contact with
the family. A 13-year-old granddaughter of Self's was treated and
released from the hospital, police said.
At a news conference
Monday, officials with the Bessemer Police Department declined to
elaborate on Self's mental health. But police spokesman Rob Tufano said
evidence gathered so far shows the crash was intentional.
"It is abundantly clear that this was not an accident; that this was something Mr. Self had intentionally done," Tufano said.
Self had arranged Sunday's after-church lunch, inviting her fiance and
his parents as well, because she was hoping that her father would feel
better if he were surrounded by family, Rammell said. They had ordered
drinks and appetizers and were talking and laughing after being seated
at a table near the window.
The pastor said the family wasn't initially concerned when he got up, figuring he may have been suffering from anxiety.
began noticing his car out in the parking lot had circled. And the next
thing you know he came through the window," Rammell said.
pastor said Self had seen a psychiatrist and family doctor but hadn't
been hospitalized. Rammell said Self told him he was taking medicine for
depression and anxiety, but he was becoming particularly unstable over
"It was a roller coaster, and in the last few days it went from bad to really bad," he said.
Self, 26, was a four-year veteran of the Gaston County Sheriff's
Office, the sheriff said in a news release. She had worked as a corporal
in the jail and was off duty when she was fatally injured.
Authorities said the family was requesting privacy and referred any questions to Rammell.
Self, a former law enforcement officer, ran a private investigations
business called Southeastern Loss Management, mostly working for
companies to investigate employees' wrongdoing. Rammell said the
business had been going through an unspecified "transition" that
required the help of some friends, but he didn't elaborate.
whose church is listed in a directory of the Southern Baptist
Convention, said Self had been active for decades in a Baptist
congregation that grew into Venture Church. He said Self had served as a
volunteer youth minister to "hundreds and hundreds."
of this church has always been to help others, but Rammell said he needs
to learn more about mental illness and the challenges people can face
in finding treatment.
"This has been a huge lesson for me," he
said, later adding: "I think we as a nation are very ignorant about it,
and we need to get non-ignorant about it.