Leon McCray, a Black pastor for the Lighthouse Church & Marketplace Ministries International in Virginia, was arrested earlier this month after he called police on five white people who surrounded him, and threatened to kill him, BuzzFeed News reports.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter shared on Facebook that he personally contacted McCray two days after the arrest to apologize for the misunderstanding, and inform him that the charge against him have been dropped.
On June 1, McCray was driving to his property in Edinburg, Virginia when he saw two people dragging a refrigerator to his dumpster. McCray asked them to leave since they were trespassing, but the two confronted him, calling over three others who circled around him, and hurled threats.
"They were telling me that my Black life and Black Lives Matter stuff – that they don't give a darn about stuff in this county and they could care less and 'We will kill you,'" McCray recalled during a sermon at his church.
Feeling threatened by the group, McCray pulled out his licensed concealed gun, and dialed 911 to report them. When the police arrived, they spoke with the white people, and told McCray that he was going to be arrested for brandishing a weapon before he ever got the chance to tell them his side of the story. As he was driven away, McCray remembers seeing the group waving at him and yelling "racial epithets."
McCray was released later that night after providing a written statement, and was promised a meeting with Sheriff Carter the following day.
"[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 statement, via Action News Jax. "Actually, as I told Mr. McCray, if I were faced with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing."
Following an investigation into the incident which was initiated by Carter, Farrah Lee Salyers, Donny Richard Salyers, Dennis James Salyers, and Christopher Kevin Sharp were arrested and charged with hate crime-simple assault, simple assault by mob, and abduction. The fifth person, Amanda Dawn Salyers, was given hate crime-simple assault and simple assault by mob.