A man intentionally rammed a vehicle into a North Carolina restaurant busy serving Sunday lunch, killing his daughter and another person and injuring several others, authorities said.
Bessemer City Police said in a statement that preliminary evidence indicates Roger Self, 62, purposely smashed his way into the Surf and Turf Lodge where reports say families were eating a relaxed midday meal.
Footage from the scene showed emergency responders treating people on the ground outside the restaurant as shocked patrons milled about in the aftermath of the crash. Killed was 26-year-old Katelyn Tyler Self, the daughter of the driver and a Gaston County Sheriff’s Office deputy. Authorities haven’t released the name of the second person fatally injured, saying they were still notifying relatives.
Police said Roger Self was arrested after the vehicle had fully slammed its way inside the steak and seafood restaurant in Bessemer City, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Charlotte. Jail records show he’s been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
The Gaston Gazette identified Roger Self as a businessman from Dallas, North Carolina.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police spokesman Rob Tufano called the crash a “mass casualty” incident, and reports said some of the victims were flown by helicopter to Carolinas Medical Center. There was no immediate count on the number of injured or the extent of the injuries.
“He drove his car into the building, killing people, so that’s why we took him into custody immediately,” Bessemer City Police Chief Thomas Ellis Jr. said. He gave no indication what might have prompted the crash.
Photographs from the scene showed a shattered opening in a restaurant wall, where the car had smashed inside the building.
The Gaston Gazette identified the vehicle as a sports utility vehicle.
Caleb Martin, a 14-year-old who busses tables at the restaurant, told a broadcast outlet that he saw the vehicle suddenly smash through a wall into the restaurant.
“I walked over to my station and I heard a loud boom,” he told WSOC-TV. “It went straight through.”
He added, “The one guy I could help in back, he was pretty hurt.” He said he was stunned but managed to help paramedics move tables off the person and debris out of the way so the injured could be treated.
Katelyn Self was a four-year veteran of the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Alan Cloninger told The Charlotte Observer. The sheriff said the deputy had worked as a corporal in the jail and was off duty when she was fatally injured.
Cloninger choked up as he spoke about the crash.
“Tragic, tragic loss of life,” he told reporters. “I’m asking people just to keep the family in your prayers, and the sheriff’s office, because we’re suffering right now.”
The sheriff’s office later tweeted a photograph of the deputy via social media, adding “Our hearts are broken” and that the agency was asking for thoughts and prayers not only for the deputy’s family and friends but also for her “brothers and sisters in uniform.”
A 2017 profile in the Gazette said Roger Self ran a private investigations business called Southeastern Loss Management. It said the business opened in 1989 and mostly helped companies investigate employees’ wrongdoing.
Authorities said the family was requesting privacy and referred any questions to the family’s pastor. Messages left at the phone of the pastor by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.