5 charged with assault, hate crimes against Virginia pastor arrested after reporting attack

EDINBURG, Va. — Shenandoah County, Virginia, authorities arrested five people late Thursday on charges of assault and hate crimes against a local minister, multiple media outlets reported.

Leon McCray, pastor of Lighthouse Church and Marketplace Ministries International in Woodstock, called police on June 1 after he said five adults attacked him on property he owns in Edinburg. Upon arriving, however, deputies arrested McCray on a charge of brandishing a weapon and removed him from the property while the five adults he accused of assaulting him looked on, The Northern Virginia Daily reported.

Nearly two weeks later, Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter confirmed Friday that the charge against McCray has been dropped and the following suspects have been arrested for his assault:

Danny Salyers, 43: felony abduction, assault-hate crime, assault by mob, assault and battery

Dennis Salyers, 26: felony abduction, assault-hate crime, assault by mob, assault and battery

Farrah Salyers, 42: felony abduction, assault-hate crime, assault by mob

Christopher Sharp, 57: felony abduction, assault-hate crime, assault by mob, trespassing

Amanda Salyers, 26: assault-hate crime, assault by mob, trespassing

All five were taken into custody without incident at an Edinburg home and are being held without bond at the sheriff’s office, Carter said Friday.

In addition, the sheriff has placed two of his staff supervisors on unpaid administrative leave while he completes an administrative review of the initial incident, WHSV reported.

According to the newspaper, McCray called 911 to report five people assaulting him but was, instead, arrested after deputies arrived.

McCray told listeners at an anti-racism protest in Woodstock on June 6 and in a video posted Sunday on his church’s Facebook page that the gun was his, that he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and that he was using the gun to protect his life, the newspaper reported.

This video outlines a TRUE account of misconduct by the sheriff department after I HAD BEEN VERBALLY AND PHYSICALLY...

Posted by Leon K. McCray on Sunday, June 7, 2020

"[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 a prepared statement. "Actually, as I told Mr. McCray, if I were faced with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing."

The charges against McCray were dropped Wednesday.

"I have apologized to Mr. McCray, and I appreciate his patience as I have worked through these matters," Carter wrote in his statement. "I do listen to citizen complaints and I take them seriously.

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