BESSEMER CITY, NC — Two people are dead and others injured after a man took his family to a Bessemer City restaurant, excused himself from the table, and then plowed his speeding SUV into the crowded establishment.
Police say that Roger Self, 62, intentionally drove his Jeep SUV into the Surf and Turf Lodge just after noon on Sunday, specifically targeting the area where his family was seated. He has since been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Killed in the crash were Katelyn Self, 26, the driver’s daughter who worked as a Gaston County Sheriff’s Deputy; and Amanda Self, the driver’s daughter-in-law and an emergency-room nurse.
Authorities say the impact also injured Roger Self’s wife, Diane Self, and Amanda Self’s 13-year-old daughter. The other victims are expected to recover.
It’s been reported that Roger Self ran a private-investigation firm by the name of Southeastern Loss Management. Years earlier, officials said, Roger worked for the Gaston Police Department.
Caleb Martin, a 14-year-old who busses tables at the restaurant, witnessed the crash as it happened and told reporters:
“I walked over to my station and I heard a loud boom. It went straight through. There’s a doorway. There is a wall and he drove in another room.”
— Stephanie Tinoco (@STinocoWSOC9) May 21, 2018
Brandon Wilson, a Surf and Turf Lodge waiter, also described the incident first-hand, saying:
“I saw a white Jeep just fly right past my face. It was so unreal. I saw chairs and tables and cups just flying everywhere. It just sounded like a tornado.”
Another waiter, Nathaniel Vickers, said Roger Self was a regular at the restaurant, and how, amid the carnage, a “woman died in my manager’s arms.”
Austin Rammell, the Selfs’ pastor, told the press that Roger had been suffering from mental illness and had sought medical help in recent months, stating:
“Family has been loving him through this. He’s been taking precautions. He had all the guns removed from his house, so he was taking steps that were rational steps. There’s nobody in the world Roger loved more than those people, and they know that …. even in the most chaotic, senseless, moment like this.”
The clergyman said he had seen Roger and the family at church just hours before the crash, noting: “They took up a whole row.”
At an official press conference, Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger said:
“Today we lost one of our own, Deputy Katelyn Self, in a tragic incident that occurred while she was not on duty. Katelyn has served the Sheriff’s Office for four years and was a corporal in the jail. 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.”
Officers booked Roger Self into Gaston County Jail without bond on two counts of first-degree murder. He is scheduled to appear in court today. If he is ultimately convicted as charged, he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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Main photo: Roger Self [Gaston County Sheriff’s Office]