A black church pastor from Virginia has said that he was arrested after calling 911 to report that five white individuals were verbally and physically attacking him.
Pastor Leon McCray of Lighthouse Church and Marketplace Ministries International in Woodstock has said that he was forced to brandish a gun to scare off the attackers, who set upon him after he tried to prevent them from dumping waste on his property.
However, to his shock the police officers who arrived at the incident, placed him under arrest.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter has since issued an apology to the pastor for his arrest, and has confirmed that the five people involved in the attack had now been arrested. There were three male and two female suspects.
In addition, two department supervisors have now been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending a full review of the incident.
Pastor McCray spoke about his experience during his online sermon broadcast, saying: "Very traumatic experience. I don't know if you have ever been through anything like that. I never have. Very trying."
He described the ordeal, which began earlier this month when he witnessed two people trying to dump a large refrigerator on his property. He stepped forward and asked them to stop, however, the men turned on him with one immediately starting to verbally attack him, while the other went to call their three other friends.
Pastor McCray said, "I informed these individuals that they were trespassing and that they couldn't dump their refrigerator on my property, and I asked them to leave. They became irate and verbally attacked me."
He explained that "these same individuals were threatening my life, telling me that my black life, and black lives matter stuff" were not welcome in the town.
"Being threatened and being in fear for my life, I took and felt compelled to pull my concealed weapon — legal concealed weapon — to save my life. And when I did that, finally, these individuals backed up long enough for me to call 911," he said.
However, when he called 911, the operator did not seem interested in the threats or whether he was ok, but focused their attention only on the person with the gun. The pastor pleaded with the operator to send help.
Soon after, about 10 police officers arrived at the scene, and immediately confiscated the pastor's gun. They went and spoke to the five individuals who had been threatening him.
He described: "They went and talked to them. They were still hollering racial epithets. They were still threatening my life. They were still telling me what they were going to do to me."
"What did the sheriff do?" the pastor asked. "I was really never given the opportunity to tell what was going on."
Following their chat with the five trespassers, the police immediately returned to the pastor and arrested him in front of his attackers.
Pastor McCray was released from custody later that same night, however, it wasn't until two days later that he finally had the opportunity to sit down and report what had happened with Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter.
A review was then conducted into the incident, and later all charges were dropped against the pastor.
Sheriff Carter has said, "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."
The five individuals who allegedly assaulted Pastor McCray have now also been arrested, charged with assault by a mob, as well as a hate crime assault. Four of the accused were also charged with felony abduction.
A court date has been set for July 17.