Pastor Leon K. McCray, 61, called the police after he was beaten by a group of white trespassers who were yelling racial epithets at him, and officers responded only to place him in handcuffs.
A Black pastor in Virginia has received an apology from Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter after he was taken into custody. Leon K. McCray, the pastor of Lighthouse Church & Marketplace Ministries, was reportedly visiting one of his properties when he saw a man and a woman, both white, attempting to put a refrigerator in one of his trash dumpsters after pulling it from another property. He let them know they couldn't do that and told them they had to leave the premises, but instead, they not only threatened his life, but they left and returned with a few of their friends to carry out nefarious deeds.
McCray said that the five people physically assaulted him while saying “they don’t give a darn” about “my Back life and the Black Lives Matter stuff." They also told him that they intended to kill him. The pastor has a license to carry a firearm and had it on his person so he pulled out the gun, causing the mob to back away. McCray was able to call 911 for help, but even after officers responded to the scene, that didn't stop the criminals from shouting racial epithets at him in front of the police.
Officers reportedly took McCray's weapon from him and refused to hear his side of the story. Instead, the pastor was handcuffed in front of the very people who just assaulted him as they stood alongside other deputies watching closely. They waved as he was escorted away and taken to the station.
“This was indeed the most humiliating, dehumanizing, damning and violating event of my life,” McCray said. “I’m a pastor, a decorated 24-year Air Force master sergeant veteran, no criminal record.” After sharing his story with his congregation and gaining national attention about the incident, the five people involved were arrested and held without bond: Donny Richard Salyers, Dennis James Salyers, Farrah Lee Salyers, Christopher Kevin Sharp and Amanda Dawn Salyers. They've all been charged with a hate crime among others.
The sheriff had to come forward to ask for the weapons charge against McCray to be dismissed and apologized to the pastor for the mix-up, but over on Facebook, McCray said the charge had yet to be removed. “As I told Mr. McCray, if I were faced with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing,” Carter said. “I want the people of Shenandoah County to know that I and the sheriff’s office staff appreciate and care about the minority communities, and especially our black community."
Two officers involved have been placed on unpaid leave.