GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A man has been charged with murder after he crashed his car into a Gaston County restaurant Sunday, killing his daughter and daughter-in-law and seriously injuring several others, including his granddaughter.
The incident happened around noon at the Surf and Turf restaurant located on North 14th Street in Bessemer City.
Officials say Roger Self intentionally drove the car into the restaurant. "It was abundantly clear that this was not an accident," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Rob Tufano said in a press conference Monday.
The Gaston County Sheriff's Office says one of the victims who died, later identified as 26-year-old Katelyn Self, worked as a deputy for the sheriff's office and had been with the department for four years. She was Roger Self's daughter, officials said.
Deputies posted on Facebook about Katelyn Self's death shortly after the incident occurred.
The second person killed was identified by the sheriff as Amanda Self, the wife of Roger Self's son, Gaston County Police Officer Josh Self. Josh Self was injured and is in critical but stable condition. The family's pastor said Josh Self's condition was "improving."
Amanda and Josh's 13-year-old daughter, also Roger Self's granddaughter, was injured in the incident but is expected to be OK.
Amanda Self worked as an ER nurse at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia. WBTV initially held off on identifying Amanda Self as the second person killed at the request of law enforcement.
Katelyn Self's fiancé Alex Burns, who works with the Gastonia Police Department, was sitting next to her when the incident occurred. "He was sitting beside his fiancé and suddenly she was gone," the family's pastor, Austin Rammell, said during a press conference.
Other children were at the table when the incident occurred and are OK. They are being cared for by family members and friends, according to Rammell.
Roger Self's wife, Diane, is also in critical but stable condition at Carolinas Medical Center-Main. Diane Self and her husband's second daughter, Taylor Potter, were also at the table when he drove into the restaurant.
Potter's husband and daughter were also at the table when the incident occurred but were not injured, according to Rammell. "They're grieving and right now they're focused on their family," Rammell said. Katelyn Self's fiancé's parents were also at the table but were not hurt.
"Tragic, tragic loss of life," Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger said in a Sunday afternoon press conference. "I would just ask for the people to keep the family in their prayers and also the Sheriff's Office cause we are going through a tough time right now."
A family member told WBTV that Roger Self allegedly made the reservation at the Surf and Turf Lodge the day before the incident occurred but the family's pastor said during a media briefing on Monday that was not case. According to Rammell, Katelyn Self had reportedly made the reservation "to have a good time with her dad."
On Sunday, Roger Self reportedly came into the restaurant with his family before getting up and leaving, sources say. That's when he then allegedly drove his car into the building. "Roger got up...the next thing you know he came through the window," the family's pastor said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said the incident was domestic related and that officials were not looking for any other suspects.
The family had previously attended church together prior to meeting at the restaurant, according to Rammell.
Roger Self owned Southeastern Loss Management, Inc, which is located on Oakland Street in Dallas. Records show he has owned the business since 1989. He worked as a police officer for nearly 4 years in Gastonia in the late 1970s.
Cloninger said he has known Roger Self his whole life and says the incident is not adding up to the man he knew.
On Monday, the family's pastor held a media briefing to speak on behalf of the Self family. Pastor Ramell said that Katelyn Self and Amanda Self "are basking in the glory of heaven."
A prayer vigil was held at the family's church Sunday night following the incident, according to Ramell.
Ramell said Roger Self had worked for the Gastonia Police Department for two years before owning his business. Roger Self had also worked as a volunteer youth pastor at his family's church, Venture, in the 1980s, his pastor said.
"Roger has been an icon in this community for decades. There is a list a mile long of the people this man has sacrificed to make their lives better," Ramell said. "He has walked with people through some of the darkest times imaginable and never once stopped to ask for credit or applause."
According to Ramell, Roger Self's mental wellbeing was the contributing factor in this incident. He had reportedly started reaching out to his wife and church leaders two months prior to the Sunday tragedy with concerns of his mental state.
Ramell said Roger Self had been suffering from "severe depression and severe anxiety." "It was a roller coaster...the last few days it went from bad to really bad," the pastor said.
The family's pastor said the church had pointed Roger Self toward psychiatrists and offered him help for his mental health. "What happened yesterday was not a testimony of Roger Self but a testimony of mental illness that absolutely overtook him a little over two months ago," the pastor said.
The pastor wanted to remind others how severe mental illness can be. "It is a mind no longer capable of processing life, truth or emotions with any measure of sanity whatsoever," he said. "Everything becomes twisted. His family and close friends had intensely labored to try and get Roger help."
When Roger Self realized he was struggling with depression, he reportedly called his son and asked family members to take away his guns, according to his pastor.
"At the end of the day, we were all unable to help our friend and the result was his mental state carried him to an act that the Roger Self who we all known would have without hesitation called absolutely insane and evil," the pastor said. "Roger deeply loved his family. He deeply loved the daughter he killed. He deeply loved the daughter-in-law he killed. Mental illness is real and yesterday we saw absolutely horrifying testimony of that reality."
The pastor hopes in the days to follow that the family can get clarity over the situation and what happened. "The man you're seeing a picture of is not the man any of us has ever known until a few months ago."
"We're going to love this family and that includes Roger," the family's pastor said.
Roger Self appeared before a Gaston County magistrate just before 7 p.m. Sunday was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He made his first court appearance at 1:30 p.m. Monday afternoon. During the appearance, Self asked for a court-appointed attorney and was denied bond.
CMPD and the Gastonia Fire Department assisted Bessemer City Fire Department on the scene.
This tragic incident sparked a man who was at the center of another tragedy in the Charlotte-area to call WBTV from behind bars.
David Crespi was a Charlotte banker in 2006 when he called 911 and told the operator he had killed his twin 5-year-old daughters inside their Matthews home. From the beginning, Crespi and his wife Kim blamed the murders on a 'medication induced psychosis' brought on by a cocktail of medications Crepsi had recently been prescribed.
He pleaded guilty to the murders to avoid the death penalty and is now serving two life sentences in prison.
"That medication altered who I was and makes people, some people, psychotic and compulsive," Crespi said on the phone. "I know some [people] are helped. I am not trying to tell people to get off, you have to be so careful because doctors need to be involved but people need to do their own research."
He said other inmates who know his situation have mentioned the Roger Self case.
Dozens of first responders met Monday night to debrief about what happened just one day earlier.
Reverend Brad Hall, a chaplain with the Gaston County Firefighter's Association, arranged for several people to meet Monday night to talk about the tragedy. Several of those who came to Monday's meeting were connected to the incident. Some even responded to the site.
"This one was probably one of the worst for us because it was actually family. It was part of us," said Hall about the incident.
The reverend said he also responded to the site Sunday afternoon.
"That's probably one of the worst ones I've been to in a long, long time," said Hall.
If you have any additional information, you're asked to call Bessemer City Police Department at 704-466-4985.