Authorities arrested 46-year-old Jerri Kelly — former law enforcement employee and wife of Wynne, Arkansas, jail administrator Joe Kelly — after she pulled a gun on four black teens raising money for their high school football team.
The four teens — two of which who were wearing high school football jerseys during the door-to-door canvassing — were unhurt during the incident, which took place earlier in August.
What are the details?
The four young men were visiting homes in Kelly's neighborhood, selling discount cards to benefit the local high school's football team.
When the teens arrived at Kelly's residence, she was waiting for them with a chrome-plated pistol in hand. She demanded they get down on the ground and put their hands behind their heads.
Wynne Police Chief Jackie Clark said that officers responded to a report of "suspicious persons" and arrived at Kelly's residence, only to find Kelly holding the four teens at gunpoint. When authorities arrived on the scene, officers permitted the teens to get off of the ground and explain themselves. The young men said that they were selling the discount cards as a fundraiser for their school football team.
Authorities arrested Kelly on Monday on four counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and endangering the welfare of a minor. Her husband — the jail administrator — bonded her out at $10,000. No mug shot was taken, because Kelly reportedly had a "medical issue" during processing, Cross County Sheriff David West told the outlet.
"During that time she was at the jail, a bondsman arrived and bonded her out, and they went back home," West said. He insisted that Kelly did not receive preferential treatment as a result of of her husband's job.
"I'm a professional," West added. "My department is professional. There was no special treatment. She went through the steps just like any other person would."
Local resident Bill Winkler told WMC-TV that it's not uncommon to see students canvassing the neighborhoods before school starts in the fall.
"Usually it's right before football season, late summer or early fall, the kids were out selling these discount cards," he explained. "They're just kids. You worry about your neighborhood, and you wonder who is this person."
The school district is reportedly reconsidering its fundraising policy to exclude door-to-door solicitations following the incident.
'I thought she was going to shoot me in the head'
According to The Washington Post, the teens feared for their lives during the incident.
"We was scared," one of the teens told police, according to the Post's reporting. "I thought she was going to shoot me in the head, how she was acting."
Kelly told police that she saw the teens walking the neighborhood and became suspicious.
"All males were African American and I know this residence to [be] white," Kelly said in her statement, the Post reported. She explained that she saw the boys "horseplaying" in a residential driveway and "aggravating the dog that lived there."
She saw that the teens were headed to her residence next, so she dug out her pistol and phoned her husband to summon police to the house.
Kelly denied that racism played a part in the incident after police arrived on the scene, and, instead, began to lecture the teens when the situation was secure.
"Don't act like that. Be men about it and sell cards," she reportedly told them. "Be smart about it boys. Please. It's your life you're talking about. Don't be silly about it. All right. For me, will you do that?"
She later reportedly offered to take them out to lunch to smooth over the situation.
The grandmother of one of the teens involved in the incident says that her grandchild is still upset by the encounter.
"He said, 'Grandma,'" the woman said, "'every time I close my eyes, I see that gun.'"
You can watch a video report on the incident here.