Vigils held across Gaston County for family members killed in Bessemer City tragedy

GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Two separate vigils were held Wednesday night in Gaston County. Both events were held so community members could grieve together and honor the lives of those killed and hurt in a tragic incident in Bessemer City.

Teens and their parents gathered at the Venture Church in Dallas to pray together and talk about what happened Sunday at the Surf and Turf Lodge.

While that service was taking place, dozens of people returned to the restaurant to hold a separate candlelight vigil. Among those in attendance were law enforcement officers, paramedics, nurses and members of the community.

"I guess everybody is just shocked for something like this to happen at home," Bessemer City resident Joanie Davis told WBTV.

The group gathered in front of the restaurant and prayed together.  Many of them had seen the aftermath of what had happened Sunday.

"My heart was broken and I felt really remorse for the family," said Ashley Lopez.

Lopez said she lived right down the road from the restaurant and heard about the incident soon after it had taken place.

RELATED: Family issues statement in restaurant tragedy, says Roger Self 'always will be loved by this family'

The group held two large balloons scrawled with the names of Katelyn Self and Amanda Self and released them into the sky Wednesday night.

"I'm sorry for such a tragic event to happen in their life and everybody's there for them. We're praying for them," said Davis.

At the Venture Church, pastors spoke to teens and their families about what had happened and how they could cope with it.

"Don't be afraid to talk. Talk to the parents here. Talk to our leaders," urged Student Pastor Chris Mintz.

While the church pastors told the teens that what Self did was horrific and will lead to justified consequences, they explained that they also believe Self was suffering from mental illness and wasn't himself when the incident took place.

"It's important for you to understand that Roger Self did not get up in the morning in the same mind and decide to kill his family," said Pastor Austin Rammell.

Melissa Dockery, owner of the Surf and Turf Lodge, spoke to WBTV Wednesday night and said she was also good friends with Roger Self.

The tragedy has had a resounding impact on her and her business, but she said she is thankful for the outpouring of support from community members.

Dockery said she hopes to re-open her restaurant to the public Friday afternoon.

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