Five people were arrested Thursday night in Edinburg on charges of assault by mob and assault-hate crime, Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter said on Friday.
Carter confirmed that the five were arrested at their home on Printz Street in Edinburg and charged as part of an investigation that stems from a June 1 incident on property in Edinburg owned by Pastor Leon McCray, of Lighthouse Church and Marketplace Ministries International in Woodstock.
The five were booked into the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail between 1:33 a.m. and 2:06 a.m. Friday. Four of the five were also charged with felony abduction, Carter wrote in a Friday statement that he also read in large part in a video posted to the Sheriff's Department's Facebook page.
Amanda Dawn Salyers, 26, was charged with one count of hate crime-simple assault and one count of simple assault by mob.
The other four — Farrah Lee Salyers, 42; Donny Richard Salyers, 43; Dennis James Salyers, 26; and Christopher Kevin Sharp, 57 — were each charged on one count of hate crime-simple assault, one count of simple assault by mob and one count of abduction.
All five are being held without bond at the jail on the hate crime charges, with the other charges listed as carrying concurrent bonds.
On June 1, McCray called 911 to report five people assaulting him. After officers from the Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene, McCray was arrested and charged with brandishing a weapon.
McCray told listeners at an anti-racism protest in Woodstock on June 6 and in a video posted at his church’s Facebook page on Sunday that the gun was his, that he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and that he was using the gun to save his life.
He said that only one officer at the scene talked with him. McCray said he was denied the opportunity to tell his side of the story until he was released from custody later that night. He made a written statement and the following day arranged to sit down with Carter to discuss what happened.
"[A]fter talking with him about the incident, it was apparent to me that the charge of brandishing was certainly not appropriate," Carter wrote in the statement. "Actually, as I told Mr. McCray, if I were faced with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing."
On Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Office dropped the charge against McCray, who said on Thursday that he’s waiting on the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, which had reviewed the charge, to send him that confirmation in writing.
“That to me was the first thing that needed to be taken care of,” Carter said Friday of dropping the charge against McCray. “But in the meantime, we were still looking at the evidence in the case, trying to collect additional evidence, and that led us to make additional charges last night.”
Carter said the Sheriff’s Office charged four of the five individuals last week while it continued its investigation.
He said Sharp and Amanda Salyers were charged last week with trespassing and that Donny and Dennis Salyers were charged with assault and battery. Those charges were not issued as part of their arrests on Thursday night, Carter said.
“As a result of looking at the case, a more thorough review of the case, we’ve made several additional charges,” he said.
The department is also conducting an internal review, and Carter has placed two staff members on administrative leave without pay while conducting an inquiry.
“It’s still an ongoing investigation,” he said.
"I have apologized to Mr. McCray, and I appreciate his patience as I have worked through these matters," Carter wrote in the statement. "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 Second Amendment right to protect yourself and your family."
The initial court date is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 17 in the Shenandoah County General District Court.