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A Black pastor was arrested after pulling out a gun while under attack. The sheriff apologized, and now 5 alleged assailants face hate crimes charges.

By Rhea Mahbubani, Insider

Five people have been arrested on hate crimes charges and a Virginia sheriff has apologized, after a Black pastor was attacked earlier this month and arrested by the same deputies responding to his call for help.

Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter told Leon K. McCray Sr. that he was sorry for the way his deputies responded to the complaint and altercation in Edinburg on June 1, WVEC reported.

The issue began when McCray, 61, stopped two people from dumping a refrigerator in the dumpster at an apartment building that he owns, according to WHSV.

They “got irate” when he asked them to leave the premises, he said, and took off only to return with three others. They threatened McCray and called him “all types of racial slurs,” WHSV said.

“Racial epithets, and the N word, and your Black life, your motherf—ing Black life don’t make, it doesn’t make a difference in this county, it doesn’t make a difference to me, and we will kill you,” McCray told WHSV.

McCray described being surrounded by them when one man started to headbutt him, adding, “One of the guys snatched his shirt off and circled behind me, that’s when it got really bad.”

McCray told WHSV that he felt unsafe and so felt he had no choice but to pull out his gun and call 911.

“It got to the point where this is really getting really, really bad,” he said. “I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t do anything, and with the threats, I felt to save my life, I had to draw my gun.”

Carter thanked McCray for “his patience as I have worked through these matters” and promised residents that he takes their grievances “very 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,” he said. “Also, I continue to support and recognize the importance of your Constitutional rights, especially your Second Amendment right to protect yourself and your family.”

This article originally appeared in Insider.

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