Black Virginia pastor arrested after he called cops as white family beat him shouting 'black lives don't matter'
Leon McCray was arrested for brandishing legally concealed weapon which he used to scare the attackers away
EDINBURG, VIRGINIA: Police officers have reportedly apologized to a black pastor from Woodstock who was arrested for calling the police on a white family that beat him. The pastor, identified as Leon McCray, had confronted the members of the white family after he found at least two of them dumping a refrigerator on his property on June 1 in Edinburg.
Shortly after the confrontation, three more members of the same family arrived there and allegedly attacked the pastor who pulled out his concealed firearm to fend off the attackers. McCray also called the police. However, when the cops arrived they instead arrested the pastor for brandishing a weapon, according to reports.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter on Friday, June 12, apologized to the pastor about the mistreatment and dropped the charge against him after meeting McCray. The top cop, in a statement on Facebook, said that the arrest was "certainly not appropriate."
Sheriff Carter, in the statement, said that after he met with the pastor, he did not see any reason he should have been charged for. "Mr McCray met with me on Wednesday the 3rd of June, and after talking with him about the incident, it was apparent to me that the charge of brandishing was certainly not appropriate," he said. "Actually, as I told Mr. McCray, if I were faced with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing. I met twice with the Shenandoah Commonwealth’s Attorney, and she has reviewed the case, and agreed with the assessment of the brandishing charge, in that she would drop this charge."
The perpetrating family members were instead arrested in charges of assault and hate crime. The five members were identified as Donny Salyers, 43, Dennis Salyers, 26, Farrah Salyers, 42, Christopher Sharp, 57, and Amanda Salyers, 26.
The pastor of Lighthouse Church & Marketplace Ministries International, McCray, after his release, recalled the incident as "a day that changed my life." The pastor made the statement as he spoke of George Floyd protests and the Black Lives Matter movement during his sermon on Sunday, June 14. McCray said that after he confronted two of the family members who dumped a refrigerator on his property, "one of the individuals got in my face" while the other returned with three more family members.
You can watch the sermon here.
The pastor, while speaking to his congregation, said: "Now I got five people, three males and two females in my face attacking me verbally and physically and threatening to kill me," he said, adding that the family told him his "black life didn't matter". When he took out his gun to defend himself, the family members left. "I took and felt compelled to pull my concealed weapon, legally concealed weapon, to save my life," he said. He then called 911 but was surprised to see 10 cops arriving at the scene. The pastor claimed that the officials did not hear his side of the story and took his weapon.
"I was not given an opportunity to speak," McCray said. The cops instead spoke with the Salyers family and later arrested McCray. "Long story short, they came back to me and said we got to arrest you for brandishing a firearm. And I said what about the trespassing and the assault?" he said recalling the incident, adding that the arresting officer was a cop he knew for two decades in the community. The pastor said that he was handcuffed and placed into a squad car as the family members continued yelling.
"They waving at me as I go down the road, now you think about this, how disturbing," McCray said.