Jerri Kelly, the wife of a (now former) Arkansas jail administrator, has been arrested and charged after allegedly holding four black high schoolers at gunpoint on her lawn. The boys, who are reportedly all either 15 or 16 years old, had been going door to door in an effort to fundraise for their high school football team.
The incident occurred on the morning of Aug. 7, after the teens approached Kelly's Wynne, Arkansas residence, according to news station WREG. Kelly is said to have come out of her home with a firearm prior to ordering the boys to get on the ground with their hands behind their back.
Authorities say that she called 911 and then stood over them with the gun while waiting for cops to arrive. After they arrived, the police took the teens home and, following a brief investigation, arrested Kelly.
Kelly was booked on four counts each for: aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and endangering a minor. Her mugshot was not immediately available because she reportedly had a medical issue as she was being booked.
The local sheriff, David West, denied that the lack of a mugshot indicated any favoritism on the part of Kelly's previously mentioned jail administrator husband, Joe Kelly.
“I’m professional. My department is professional,” West said to news station WMC. “There was no special treatment. She went through the steps just like any other person would.”
Her mugshot was later taken after the unspecified medical issue was resolved. Additionally, she was released after posting $10,000 bond. Joe Kelly ended up resigning on Friday despite West stating that, "Joe did nothing wrong, but with his wife and the way this blew up, he decided it was best":
According to the New York Times, the four boys had been selling $20 discount cards to raise money for their football team. Their statements to police all included mention of a dog that chased them down the street on the morning of the ordeal. They say that the owner of the dog assured them that the animal was friendly, and subsequently they pet it and laughed off the chase. They say that right after that they walked up to the house where Kelly came out with a gun in her hand before they could knock on her door.
Kelly said in a statement that the boys appeared to be suspicious and didn't appear to be selling anything.
“All males were African-American,” she said in her statement. “And I know this residence to be white.”
She mentioned the dog and says that she saw it "ran them off." Kelly says she didn't see the teens knock on many doors and also made note that she had been the victim of a previous home invasion. She claims to have grabbed her gun as the teens approached, and opened her door to question them prior to ordering them on the ground.
The boys were still on the ground when the police arrived. The officer that was responding recognized them because he had been a resource officer at their high school. He reiterated to Kelly that they were attempting to raise money for their team.
On Friday, a superintendent overseeing the school (identified as Mr. Easley), acknowledged that the event garnered national attention, and therefore he made an effort to set the record straight about the area the high school resides in.
“We don’t want the impression that we have racist people walking around pulling guns on black kids,” Easley said. “Everybody in the community, regardless of race, is upset that this has happened to any kids.”