BESSEMER CITY, N.C. — The brother of a man accused of driving his car into a Bessemer City restaurant where his family was enjoying lunch Sunday says there is nothing to forgive.
"I didn't need to forgive him. I never was angry at him, and I know what he did wasn't him," said Monty Self.
Police have charged Roger Self with first-degree murder after they say he intentionally drove his Jeep into the Surf and Turf Lodge on North 14th Street just after noon, killing two family members.
But Monty Self said the brother he loves didn't commit that deadly act. He told us Roger Self is mentally ill, and the demons deep inside got the best of him and brought out the worst.
At a news conference Monday, the Self family's pastor also blamed the incident on severe mental illness. Austin Rammell, pastor at Venture Church, said "there is no way the man I've known for 16 years could do this."
Roger Self’s daughter, 26-year-old Katelyn Self, who was a Gaston County sheriff’s deputy was killed when the Jeep came through the wall of the restaurant.
The other victim was identified as Amanda Self, Roger Self's daughter-in-law, who worked as an emergency room nurse at CaroMont Regional Medical Center.
Other family members were also injured. Roger Self's wife Diane was badly hurt and is in critical condition. His son Josh Self - a Gaston County police officer - was also wounded, along with Josh and Amanda Self’s 13-year-old daughter.
They are expected to recover.
Wait staff told Channel 9's partners at the Gaston Gazette that Self took his family into the restaurant and had them seated. He then excused himself, went out to his vehicle and drove it at a high rate of speed into the area where they were sitting.
"It was like a battle zone in a movie," recalled Monty Self.
Monty said during a jail visit he told his brother what happened.
"He was numb. He was numb. He kept saying this was crazy," recalled Monty
He became concerned about the health of the people who survived the crash that he caused.
"He was distraught," said Monty
"Tragic, tragic loss of life,” Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger said. “I'm asking people just to keep the family in your prayers, and the Sheriff's Office, because we're suffering right now."
Rammell said he saw the entire family in church Sunday morning, just a couple of hours before the horrific attack.
“I'm just trying to encourage them,” Rammell said. “This was not a conscious act by their father and they know that.”
Rammell said Roger Self has been dealing with mental illness, including anxiety, depression, and mental breakdowns in recent months, and he had sought medical help.
“Family has been loving him through this,” Rammell said. “He's been taking precautions. He had all the guns removed from his house, so he was taking steps that were rational steps."
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Rammell said he was set to officiate at Katelyn Self’s wedding to her fiance, Alex, in September.
"There's nobody in the world Roger loved more than those people and they know that,” Rammell said. “Even in the most chaotic, senseless, moment like this, they at least cling to the confidence that they know where Kate and Amanda are."
Rammell said that, within hours of the tragedy, church members gathered at Venture Church for a vigil for the family.
Caleb Martin, a 14-year-old who buses tables at the restaurant, witnessed the car crash through the building.
"I walked over to my station and I heard a loud boom,” he said. “It went straight through. There's a doorway. There is a wall and he drove in another room."
Caleb was dazed by the carnage he saw. He said that, for a moment, he didn't know what to do but then he sprang into action.
"The one guy I could help in back, he was pretty hurt,” Martin said, “I helped paramedics move tables off this dude and I moved debris out of the way so they could get to him."
Officials said Roger Self is a private investigator who worked for the Gastonia Police Department years ago.
"He was a regular and we haven't seen him in a while, so when he came back, it was kind of sad,” Martin said.
Area law enforcement agencies offer condolences
Law enforcement agencies from across the area expressed their condolences on social media.
Katelyn Self was a corporal in the for the Gaston County Sheriff’s Department. "Thoughts and prayers for the Gaston County Sheriff's Office and Deputy Self's family and friends."
The Huntersville Police Department posted on Twitter, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Gaston County Sheriff's Office and the family and friends of Corporal Katelyn Self. Corporal Self was senselessly killed today while off duty."
Cox Media Group