The surviving family members of a former cop who mowed down his family at brunch, killing his daughter and daughter-in-law, insist they don’t recognize the man he’d become.
Roger Self, 62, is charged with first-degree murder last week after he excused himself from the table where his family were eating at the Surf and Turf Lounge in Bessemer City and then purposely crashed his car into the busy restaurant.
Self’s 26-year-old daughter Katelyn Self and his daughter-in-law Amanda Self were both killed, while several other relatives were injured amid the carnage.
But on Sunday, Self’s surviving daughter Taylor Self Potter said that the man that had murdered her sister and sister-in-law was not the father they all knew.
‘Please, people need to know this was not my daddy,’ she said, the Gaston Gazette reported.
Roger Self, 62, (pictured at his hearing on May 21) is charged with first-degree murder after he purposely crashed his car into a busy restaurant, killing family members. The surviving family members of Self insist they don’t recognize the man he’d become
Katelyn Self (right), 26, a deputy with the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office, was killed in the crash. The surviving family members of Self insist they don’t recognize the man he’d become
The surviving family gathered at their local church on Sunday, where the congregation decided to use its annual spring event to pay tribute to the family.
‘May we, as the church, rise up and live out the Gospel in a way that brings healing to the broken,’ pastor Austin Rammell of Venture Church said.
Members of the church all prayed for the family, who were in mourning over their lost siblings, WSOC TV reported.
‘We just want to celebrate life and enjoy one another,’ Rammell said. ‘We’re still praying hard and heavy for those that were victimized in that incident. Kate and Amanda are not with us and it hurts bad, Lord. But we know where they are.’
‘For those family members to be there today spoke volumes to everybody else, that in the midst of their trial, they still want to worship and praise our savior,’ Rammell said.
Katelyn Self is pictured above on the left and right with her father
The other victim was Amanda Self who was married to Self’s son Josh (above). The son was also injured in the crash but the couple’s children were unharmed
Family friend Tracy Philbeck said she’s tried to warn the family that Roger Self was struggling with his mental health just days before the tragedy.
‘If I could have committed him, I would have committed him myself,’ said Philbeck, a longtime Gaston County commissioner.
Just five days later, Philbeck said he got a call from a hysterical Taylor, telling him to come to the restaurant where the family had been enjoying brunch.
When he arrived, he had just moments to take in the chaos, and see his friends, in handcuffs, screaming that everyone was ‘evil’.
He said he prayed over Katelyn, who was close to death, until she passed away.
Both Philbeck and Rammell said they’d noticed Self’s decline into depression in the past months. Both had tried to help and recommended he see a counselor or psychiatrist.
Police said Self excused himself from the table where his family were eating at the Surf and Turf Lounge in Bessemer City and then purposely crashed his car into the busy restaurant
But they say nothing worked, not drugs, counselling or prayer.
‘He couldn’t sleep. He stopped eating. He wouldn’t go workout with me at the gym,’ Philbeck said.
Rammell, the family’s pastor and close friend, said Self had been treated for depression and anxiety that seemed to intensify in the two and a half months preceding Sunday’s deadly crash.
The pastor, who saw the entire family at church just hours before, said Self opened up about his problems about 10 weeks ago when he asked his son to take his guns away from him.
‘His family and close friends have intensely labored to try and get Roger help. We all feel a level of guilt,’ Rammell said.
He added that while he worried his friend might hurt himself, he never imagined that Self would target his family.
Roger Self, 63, (above with wife Dianne) is charged with killing his daughter and his son’s wife after driving his car into the North Carolina restaurant where the family were eating on Sunday
Self’s 26-year-old daughter Katelyn Self (pictured together in 2013) was killed in the crash. She had organized the family brunch on Sunday in a bid to make her father feel better
Rammell said Self’s judgment had become impaired.
‘It’s very possible that in his mind, he was thinking the best thing for this family was that they all go to heaven together,’ he said.
Despite the tragedy, Philbeck insists that the family’s faith has not been shaken.
‘I can tell you what the family believes – that God is sovereign. He’s God in the good times and he’s God in the bad times. The sun will come up tomorrow and God still reigns and that is where our faith is,’ said Philbeck.
Police have not yet given a motive behind the crash but said there was no evidence that drugs or alcohol played a role.
Self faced court last week in shackles and an orange jumpsuit but showed little emotion as the judge ordered him to remain in prison without bond.
Self (above in his mugshot) had been suffering from a severe mental illness and had asked his family to take away his guns in the weeks before he mowed down his relatives. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder
Self was arrested at the restaurant and has since been charged with two counts of first-degree murder over the deaths of his daughter and daughter-in-law.
Katelyn Self, 26, was a deputy with the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office. Amanda Self was a nurse who was married to Self’s son, Gaston County Police Officer Josh Self.
Self’s wife, Dianne, and their son Josh were both critically injured in the crash.
Josh and Amanda’s children were among the other family members at the meal but they were unharmed and are being cared for by relatives.
His wife Dianne made no mention of any family trouble in the lead up to the incident and had posted a loving Facebook message dedicated to her husband just one day earlier.
‘My Husband has made me laugh. Wiped my tears. Hugged me tight. Watched me succeed. Seen me fail. Kept me strong. My husband is a promise that I will have A FRIEND FOREVER,’ the message read.
Katelyn had arranged the brunch, inviting her fiance and his parents as well, thinking it would make her father feel better because he would be surrounded by family.
The family had ordered drinks and appetizers and were talking and laughing after being seated at a table near the window.
The pastor said his family weren’t initially concerned when he got up from the table and that they had figured he was suffering from anxiety.
‘They began noticing his car out in the parking lot had circled… and the next thing you know he came through the window,’ Rammell said.
The pastor said Self had seen a psychiatrist and family doctor but hadn’t been hospitalized.
Rammell said Self told him he was taking medicine for depression and anxiety, but he was becoming particularly unstable over the weekend.
‘It was a roller coaster, and in the last few days it went from bad to really bad,’ he said.
Self, who was a former law enforcement officer, ran a private investigations business called Southeastern Loss Management. He mostly worked for companies to investigate employees’ wrongdoing.
Rammell said the business had been going through an unspecified ‘transition’ that required the help of some friends, but he would not elaborate.
The pastor, whose church is listed in a directory of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Self had been active for decades in a Baptist congregation that grew into Venture Church.
He said Self had served as a volunteer youth minister to ‘hundreds and hundreds.’
‘They can’t even grasp that the man who had that kind of impact in their life did this,’ he said.
Photos from the scene show a gaping hole in the wall of the restaurant at the top of a wide walkway ramp leading to the entrance. The car appears to have gone all the way across the dining room and smashed partly through the restaurant’s back wall.
Photos from the scene show how the car crashed all the way across the dining room and smashed partly through the restaurant’s back wall (above)
Restaurant busboy Caleb Martin, 14, said he tried to help by clearing debris and tables away.
‘I walked over to my station and I heard a loud boom,’ Caleb told WSOC-TV. ‘The one guy I could help in back, he was pretty hurt.’
Another waiter Brandon Wilson told the Gaston Gazette: ‘I was about to go check on my tables in the back, next thing I know I saw a white Jeep fly right past my face.
‘I saw tables, chairs, cups everything flying. It was really loud.’
It is unclear exactly how many people were injured in the crash but multiple patients were transported by LifeFlight to the Level One trauma center at Carolinas Medical Center.
Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger gave a press conference soon after the crash confirming that Katelyn had been killed.
Cloninger said the 26-year-old, who was a four year veteran of the sheriff’s office, started as a jailer and worked her way up to deputy.
‘We’re suffering a little bit right now,’ Cloninger said tearfully.