BESSEMER CITY, NC (WBTV) - A newly released 911 call reveals the tragic moments after a man crashed his car into a Gaston County restaurant Sunday, killing his daughter and daughter-in-law and seriously injuring several family members.
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.
Gaston County police released the 911 call on Thursday made from an employee who worked at the restaurant. "The car came through the dining room full of people," the caller told dispatchers. "I think I have people trapped...I'm not real sure."
The employee told dispatchers that the entire front wall of the restaurant was knocked down. "The car literally ran over some of my customers," the woman tells dispatchers.
The woman told officers that she recognized Roger Self and said she could tell that "he had been through a mental breakdown." She said she knew Roger Self personally. "I think he did it on purpose and it was his family that he drove the car into," the woman said.
You can hear the 911 caller cry and say: "He killed his whole family."
The employee said she had previously been contacted earlier in the week and was told that Roger Self had been in a "severe depression and hasn't been leaving the house."
In the 911 call, the woman said one of the suspect's daughters screamed "her dad was the one who drove the car in."
Roger Self's daughter, Katelyn Self and his daughter-in-law, Amanda Self, were both killed in the incident. Katelyn Self was a deputy with the Gaston County Sheriff's Office and Amanda Self worked as an ER nurse at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia.
Amanda Self was the wife of Roger Self's son, Gaston County Police Officer Josh Self. Josh Self was injured and is in critical but stable condition. On Monday, 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. The employee told dispatchers that she had talked to Josh Self at the restaurant before the incident occurred and asked about Roger Self's condition.
Josh Self reportedly told the woman that his father "was doing OK, but he was having problems."
Gaston County Sheriff's Corporal Katelyn Self and her brother Gaston County Police Officer Josh Self (Photos provided to WBTV)
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.
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.
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.
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.
The family had previously attended church together prior to meeting at the restaurant, according to Rammell.
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."
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.
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."
"We're going to love this family and that includes Roger," the family's pastor said.
Roger Self 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.
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.
Two separate vigils were held Wednesday night in Gaston County so community members could grieve together and honor the lives of those killed and hurt in the tragic incident.
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.
Wednesday's service was the first of four events that Pastor Rammell and his church has planned to help the community cope with the tragedy. You can find the full list of services here.
Monty Self, the brother of Roger Self, spoke on behalf of the family Wednesday, thanking law enforcement and the community for their support.
"At this time we still have family members battling the physical ramifications of this event; Josh Self and Diane Self," Monty Self said.
Monty Self said,"our faith assures us that no matter the darkest of days in this life, our ultimate home, eternal home, is a place of glorious light in God's presence. Kate Self and Amanda Self knew this to be true and now, because they believed this, they are experiencing his presence and we know, one day, we will be reunited with them."
"Roger Self has been, and always will be, loved by this family. As many can understand, many questions exist in our minds with regard to his health and actions," Monty Self said.