BESSEMER CITY, N.C. (AP) — A man intentionally rammed a vehicle into a North Carolina restaurant busy with a lunchtime crowd Sunday, killing his daughter and another person and injuring several others, authorities said Sunday.
Bessemer City Police said in a statement that preliminary evidence indicates the man purposely drove into the Surf and Turf Lodge about noon Sunday. Footage from the scene showed emergency crews treating people on the ground outside the restaurant as shocked patrons milled about afterward. 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, pending notification of the family.
Police said the driver, Roger Self, was arrested after the vehicle had smashed its way fully inside into the steak and seafood restaurant in Bessemer City, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Charlotte. Authorities did not immediately make clear what charges Self faces though authorities said in their statement that they were opening a homicide investigation.
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 report on the number of injured people or the severity of their 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.
Photographs taken at the scene showed a shattered opening in a restaurant wall, where the car had smashed inside the building.
The Gaston Gazette reported that wait staff said Self had initially taken his family into the restaurant and had them seated. He then went back out to his vehicle and drove at a high rate of speed into the area where they were sitting, they said. The newspaper identified the vehicle as a sports utility vehicle.
Katelyn Self was a four-year veteran of the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Alan Cloninger told The Charlotte Observer. She worked as a corporal in the jail and was off duty when she was killed.
Cloninger choked up as he spoke about the crash.
Tragic, tragic loss of life,” he told local reporters. “I’m asking people just to keep the family in your prayers, and the sheriff’s office, because we’re suffering right now.”
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.