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Pastor Blames Mental Illness After Man Crashed Vehicle Into Restaurant

The pastor for the man who intentionally drove his car into a Bessemer City restaurant Sunday afternoon, killing his daughter and his daughter-in-law, blamed the fatal incident on “severe mental illness” at a press conference Monday.

Rev. Austin Rammell of Venture Church in Dallas, North Carolina, said Roger Self, 62, had been suffering from depression and anxiety that seemed to intensify in the few months preceding the deadly crash. He said that the incident was not in line with the man who had been “an icon in [the church] community for decades.”

Rammell, who is a close family friend, said Self had confided in him about his struggles with mental illness. He also said Self asked his son, Gaston County Officer Josh Self, to take his guns away from him about 10 weeks ago. Rammel said Self had been taking medicine for depression and anxiety, but had become increasingly unstable over the weekend.

“His family and close friends have intensely labored to try and get Roger help,” Rammell said. “We all feel a level of guilt.”

Rammell said he had been concerned that Self might injure himself, but never thought he would hurt his family. He added, “Rodger deeply loved his family and every other person he interacted with.”

The crash killed Self’s daughter Katelyn Self, 26, and his daughter-in-law Amanda Self, 35, who was married to his son, Josh. Josh Self and Roger Self’s wife, Diane, were injured and are in critical, but stable condition at CaroMont Health in Gastonia. One of Self’s grandchildren was also injured but was treated and released from the hospital, according to the Bessemer City Police Department.

Rammell said Katelyn Self had arranged the after-church lunch at the Surf and Turf Lodge, hoping that her father would feel better surrounded by family. He said the family wasn’t initially concerned when Self got up from the table.

“They began noticing his car out in the parking lot had circled,” Rammell said. “And the next thing you know he came through the window.”

Self has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, according to the Bessemer City Police Department.

Katelyn Self was a Gaston County Sheriff’s deputy. She was engaged to Alex Burns, an officer with the Gastonia Police Department. Burns and his parents were at the lunch but were not injured in the crash. Amanda Self was a nurse at CaroMont Health in Gastonia.

The family has requested privacy, pointing all questions to Rammell. In the press conference Monday, Rammell said this fatal incident highlighted the reality of mental illness.

“I pray that we as a society can finally get serious about mental health,” Rammell said. “Mental illness is real and yesterday we saw the ugly reality of that.”