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Black Pastor Who Was Being Assaulted By Group Of White People Called Sheriff For Help, Only To Be Arrested Himself

Leon K. McCray/Facebook

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues, more Black people are coming forward after being assaulted, wrongfully detained or arrested.

One of the latest is a pastor in Virginia.

Leon K. McCray, 61 years old, serves as a pastor in Edinburgh, Virginia and is also an Air Force Veteran. On Monday, June 1st, McCray was checking on a building that he owns, where he discovered five trespassers on his property.

Instead of leaving, the group of White people began threatening him and calling him names. McCray called the sheriff's department for help.

McCray recounted:

"They were telling me that my Black life and Black lives matter stuff — that they don't give a darn about that stuff in this county and they could care less and 'We will kill you.'"

McCray also retrieved a gun he is licensed to carry from his glove box, hoping its appearance would encourage the group to leave or at least keep him safe from attack.

When the deputies arrived, they asked McCray to hand over his firearm without de-escalating the situation with the other five individuals first. McCray also noted that, while the deputies did speak to the group of trespassers to get their statements, they never interviewed him to get his side of the story despite being the person that called them.

Instead, McCray said:

"They came back to me and said, 'We have to arrest you for brandishing a firearm.'"
"They put me in handcuffs."

Upon arresting McCray and escorting him into the sheriff's vehicle, McCray noted the five White individuals continued to yell racial slurs at him through the car window.

During his next sermon, on June 7th, McCray discussed the importance of love and acceptance during a time riddled with racial and political unrest, not to mention a pandemic. He used his story and George Floyd's death as his core examples, recounting the experience of how he was treated and all of the questions that have been left unanswered for him since then.

You can watch the full video here:

For such a times as this

Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter requested to meet with McCray on June 3. He believed the sheriff's department had failed to protect him and he wanted to discuss the situation further with McCray.

Carter stated:

"Mr. McCray was defending himself. I believe Mr. McCray."

Carter recounted his conversation with McCray on the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, stating that McCray had been treated unjustly and that all charges should be lifted.

Carter reflected in his post:

"If I were faced with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing."

Sheriff Carter shared his full account:

"I wanted to provide you information on an incident that occurred Monday 06/01/2020 in the area of Printz Street, in the town of Edinburg. Since this announcement is my first official release, it may a take a few minutes to outline what has occurred to this point."
"Regarding the initial call to Printz Street, Sheriff's Deputies responded to a call of a person brandishing a firearm. Upon their arrival, they arrested a Woodstock resident, Leon McCray, Sr."
"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. Actually, as I told Mr. McCray, if I were faced with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing."

Carter originally noted the group of trespassers' involvement was being reevaluated and charges were being assigned.

"I initiated an immediate review of Mr. McCray's charge, the remaining persons and potential charges of other persons involved in this incident, and an internal review of the actions or inaction's of the Sheriff's Office staff that responded."
"Please know that there were two persons (Dennis Salyers and Donny Salyers – both of Edinburg) already charged with Assault and Battery, and two other persons (Amanda Salyers and Christopher Sharp, both of Edinburg) charged with Trespassing."
"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."
"Last night, Sheriff's Office obtained warrants for more severe charges regarding this investigation."

Carter then updated the post.

He listed the five people involved:

"Felony Abduction, Assault by a Mob, and Assault – Hate Crime warrants were obtained for (Donny Salyers – 43, Dennis Salyers – 26, Farrah Saylers – 42, and Christopher Sharp – 57 years old). All were taken into custody without incident at their home in Edinburg."
"A fifth person, Amanda Saylers (26 years old from Edinburg) was also charged and taken into custody for Assault by Mob, and Assault - Hate Crime."
"All persons are currently being held without bond. This is still an ongoing investigation."

He added the repercussions for members of his own staff as well:

"I have placed two supervisors of my staff on unpaid Administrative Leave, while I complete an administrative review of the initial incident."
"Lastly, I have apologized to Mr. McCray, and I appreciate his patience as I have worked through these matters. I do listen to citizen complaints and I take them seriously."
"I want the people of Shenandoah County to know I and the Sheriff's Office staff appreciate and care about the minority communities, and especially our Black community, in Shenandoah County."
"Also, I continue to support and recognize the importance of your Constitutional rights, especially your 2nd Amendment right to protect yourself and your family."
"Thank you for your patience, because with today's social media, there seems to be a sense of immediacy. Please know that as I work through this process, I will update you with any future developments. Thank you."

Finally, Carter noted the official arrests and charges:

"Between 06/01/2020 and 6/11/2020, Sheriff's Office Deputies arrested Edinburg, Virginia residents after conducting an investigation. The total arrests are as follows:"
"Donny Richard Salyers, 43 years old, was charged with, Felony Abduction, Assault: Hate Crime, Assault by Mob, Assault and Battery"
"Dennis James Salyers, 26 years old, was charged with, Felony Abduction, Assault: Hate Crime, Assault by Mob, Assault and Battery"
"Farrah Lee Salyers, 42 years old, was charged with, Felony Abduction, Assault: Hate Crime, Assault by Mob"
"Christopher Kevin Sharp, 57 years old, was charged with, Felony Abduction, Assault: Hate Crime, Assault by Mob, Trespassing"
"Amanda Dawn Salyers, 26 years old, was charged with, Assault: Hate Crime, Assault by Mob, Trespassing"
"All persons are reside in Edinburg, and are currently being held without bond. The initial court date is scheduled for July 17, 2020 at 9:00 AM in the Shenandoah County General District Court."

Despite the five trespassers now being charged, Pastor McCray has yet to have his charges dropped by the county prosecutor's office. While Sheriff Carter can recommend charges be dropped, only the prosecutor can make the recommendation to a judge.

McCray shared a news story on his Facebook profile on June 15th, asking others to spread the word about the situation, hoping to have the charges dropped more quickly.

McCray pleaded:

"Just trying to de-stress and get some peace. It's like torture with this hanging over me. It has already triggerd PSTD from my time in the military and the nightmares are back. I NEED THIS TO BE OVER."

You can see his full post here:

Many have commented on the Sheriff's recounting of the situation, in disbelief that McCray was arrested in the first place.

Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Others commented on McCray's latest post, showing their support and hoping he can keep the faith a little while longer.

Leon K. McCray/Facebook

Leon K. McCray/Facebook

Leon K. McCray/Facebook

Leon K. McCray/Facebook

Leon K. McCray/Facebook

Though it's unclear what the holdup might be, hopefully the situation will get sorted out soon so McCray can move on.