A sheriff from Shenandoah County, Virginia, has apologized to a black pastor who was arrested earlier this month after calling the cops on a group of white people he said assaulted him and threatened to kill him.
Leon McCray Sr. detailed the June 1 incident in a sermon at his church that was posted on YouTube last week. McCray told his congregation that he was driving to a property he owned in Edinburg, Virginia, when he saw two people who didn't live there dragging a refrigerator to a dumpster at his apartment building. When he asked them to leave because they were trespassing, he said that they started threatening him and brought three other people who circled around him. "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 said.
McCray said that he then pulled out his licensed concealed gun after feeling threatened by the group and called 911 for assistance. He said that when authorities arrived on the scene they asked him to hand over his gun before talking to the group of five people who had allegedly threatened him.
But McCray said that the deputies never let him give them his story. "They came back to me and said, 'We have to arrest you for brandishing a firearm,'" McCray said.
"They put me in handcuffs," McCray said.
The pastor said that when deputies placed him in the car, the five people who'd been threatening him waved at the vehicle and kept yelling "racial epithets" at the car.
McCray didn't immediately respond to a request for an interview from BuzzFeed News on Monday, but in an interview with WUSA 9, Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter said that he was upset with his deputies over the arrest.
"Mr. McCray was defending himself," he said. "I believe Mr. McCray."
In a post on the county sheriff's Facebook page, Carter wrote that he had met with McCray personally on June 3 and had apologized for his arrest. "If I were faced with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing," the sheriff wrote.
The sheriff added that he had initiated a review of the charges and asked the county attorney to drop the charges against McCray.
The five people who allegedly assaulted McCray have now been charged with various crimes including trespassing, assault, hate crime assault, and battery.