Wife of Arkansas Jailer Charged After Holding Four Black Students at Gunpoint as They Went Door to Door for School Fundraiser

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The wife of an Arkansas jail administrator was arrested last week after police say she pulled a gun on four Black teens going door-to-door for a school fundraiser.

Jerri Kelly, 46, now faces several charges in the incident, WMC Action News reported.

Football Players Held at Gunpoint
Four Wynne High School athletes were going door-to-door selling discount cards for their football team when they were suddenly detained at gunpoint. (WMC Action News / video screenshot)

In a statement, Wynne Police Chief Jackie Clark said officers responded to a “suspicious persons” report on August 7 and arrived to find a gun-toting Kelly standing over the four juveniles, who were lying on the ground. As one of the officers allowed the teens to stand, they explained that they were selling discount cards for their school’s football program.

Two of the students even wore school jerseys, authorities said.

One of the players, 16, who asked not to be identified, told News Channel 3 that he and three of his teammates were out fundraising when they ran into trouble. As they walked up the driveway of a home, he said a woman came out armed with a gun. That’s when she ordered them to the ground, forced them to spread their legs and keep their hands pinned behind their backs.

The teen’s grandmother said she simply couldn’t believe what had happened.

“My grandson said, ‘Grandma, if she’d had shot me, I had made my peace with God,” she told the outlet.

Officers took the teens home and Kelly was arrested Monday on four counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a minor. She didn’t have her mugshot taken, however, because Cross County Sheriff David West claims she suffered a “medical issue” during booking.

“During that time she was as at the jail, a bondsman arrived and bonded her out, and they went back home,” West told the news station.

Kelly’s husband is Cross County Jail Administrator Joe Kelly, who works for West. The sheriff insisted that Kelly didn’t receive any special treatment — but folks in the community believe otherwise.

“I’m professional. My department is professional,” West said. “There was no special treatment. She went through the steps just like any other person would.”

Wynne Superintendent Carl Easley said the district is now considering ending its door-to-door fundraising after last week’s incident. The parents of the student’s involved were immediately notified.

“They’re just kids,” longtime resident Bill Winkler told WMC Action News, adding that it’s not uncommon to see students in the neighborhood selling discount cards this time of year. 

According to the city’s police chief, a judge set Kelly’s bond at $10,000. He  first hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday.

“As we focus on our children, no bond will ever be set too high to protect our children,” Clark said in a statement. “But in the real world, bonds are only set to guarantee appearances in court. Sometimes as police officers or citizens we don’t always agree with bonds being set too high or low, but our goal is always to ensure justice is served in the end.”

Watch more in the video below.

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