Bessemer City, NC – Gaston County Sheriff’s Corporal Katelyn Self was murdered on Sunday afternoon, when her father drove a Jeep through the wall of a restaurant, and intentionally struck the table where his family had gathered to share a meal.
Cpl. Self, 26, died at the scene. Her sister-in-law, Amanda Self, later died at a nearby hospital, the Gaston Gazette reported.
Roger Self, 62, was arrested on two counts of first-degree murder.
The attack left Amanda’s husband, Gaston County Police Officer Josh Self, and their 13-year-old daughter with severe injuries. Roger’s wife of over 30 years, Diane, was also seriously injured.
All three were expected to recover from their physical injuries, family members said.
Several other family members were present at the time, but were not injured.
The incident occurred at approximately 12:04 p.m. at the Surf and Turf Lodge Restaurant, after the Self family attended church together.
The group was seated at a table inside the restaurant when Roger excused himself.
As his family began to share appetizers, Roger got into his Jeep, and intentionally sent it barreling through the restaurant wall at a high rate of speed.
He crashed the vehicle into the area where he knew his family was seated.
“I saw a white Jeep just fly right past my face,” restaurant employee Brandon Wilson said, according to the Gaston Gazette. “It was so unreal. I saw chairs and tables and cups just flying everywhere. It just sounded like a tornado.”
Roger’s family members were pinned under the vehicle and beneath overturned tables, said Nathaniel Vickers, who was working an extra shift that day.
Roger’s granddaughter was unresponsive, covered in cuts and blood, Wilson explained.
“I was just there trying to help the best I could,” Vickers said. “It was chaotic, dust everywhere.”
“The woman died in my manager’s arms,” he recalled.
Gaston County Commissioner Tracy Philbeck was called to the scene by one of Roger’s family members, he told the Gaston Gazette.
“I just put my hands on her and prayed, and prayed for her until she died,” Philbeck said of Cpl. Self’s final moments.
As Roger was taken into custody, he repeatedly screamed that everyone was evil, the Gaston Gazette reported.
Cpl. Self had been with the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office for four years, Sheriff Alan Cloninger told The New York Times.
“This young lady started out as a detention officer, worked her way up to deputy,” Sheriff Cloninger said, calling the incident a “tragic loss of life.”
“All I’d ask is for the people to keep the family in your prayers,” the emotional sheriff continued. “And also this sheriff’s office, because we’re suffering a little bit right now.”
According to the family’s pastor, Austin Rammell, Cpl. Self and planned to marry her fiancé, Alex, in September, WSOC reported.
“Our hearts are broken and we ask for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time, not only for Katelyn’s family and friends, but also her brothers and sisters in uniform,” the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
Cpl. Self’s sister-in-law, Amanda, was a mother of two, who worked as an emergency room nurse, Rammell said.
Her husband, Officer Josh Self, underwent surgery in Charlotte following the attack.
Rammell said he has known the Self family for 16 years, and that he considers Roger, who operated a private investigation and loss management company, to be one of his closest friends.
“He and his entire family were at church this morning,” Rammell told the Gaston Gazette. “They took up an entire row.”
Rammell noted that Roger had been struggling with mental health issues in recent months, including breakdowns, anxiety, and depression, WSOC reported.
Close friends said Roger began talking about his mental illness approximately six months ago, but that things had become worse over the past couple of months, the Gaston Gazette reported.
Roger became paranoid, and said he felt he was evil, his friends said. He would sometimes remain in bed for days at a time.
“He couldn’t sleep. He stopped eating. He wouldn’t go work out with me at the gym,” Philbeck explained. “He kept telling me how numb he was. He couldn’t feel anything.”
Philbeck said that Roger, who was deeply religious, said he believed that God no longer loved him.
“Family has been loving him through this,” Rammell told WSOC, adding that Roger had sought out medical assistance. “He’s been taking precautions. He had all the guns removed from his house, so he was taking steps that were rational steps.”
Rammell agreed that the past two months had been especially concerning.
“He has been a shining light as to what it means to love people and then all of a sudden, about two months ago, it was like someone flipped a switch,” Rammell told the Gaston Gazette. “I had never met this man.”
Rammell said that the Self family asked him to deliver a message in the wake of their horrific loss.
“We will forgive Roger, with the understanding this isn’t really Roger,” the pastor recounted, on the Self family’s behalf.
Roger was booked into the Gaston County Jail, and was being held on no bond.
His first court appearance was scheduled for Monday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Gaston County Sheriff’s Corporal Katelyn Self, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.