Woman arrested for holding black teens at gunpoint because she felt ‘threatened’

Elise Solé

A group of black teens fundraising for their high school football team were held at gunpoint by a woman who reportedly felt “threatened.”

Jerri Kelly, 46, of Wynne, Arkansas was arrested Monday for aggregated assault, endangering the welfare of a minor, and false imprisonment. On August 7th, she held four boys (ages 14 and 15) at gunpoint who were going door-to-door selling restaurant coupons for their school football team (as indicated by their team jerseys).

According to WMC Action News 5, Jerri, the wife of Cross County jail administrator Joe Kelly, didn’t have her mug shot taken due to a “medical issue” and met her $10,000 bond.

However, Cross County Sheriff David West says that Jerri was treated like any other suspect. “I’m professional. My department is professional,” West told WMC. “There was no special treatment. She went through the steps just like any other person would.”

One of the teens told local news station WREG that as he and his friends approached Jerri’s home, she walked outside with a gun. She ordered them on the ground with their legs spread and their hands behind their backs. She called 911.

The grandmother of one boy told WREG, "My grandson said, 'Grandma, if she'd had shot me, I had made my peace with God.’”

According to an incident report sent to Yahoo Lifestyle from the Wynne Police Department, police encountered Jerri pointing a chrome-plated revolver at the boys in front of her Morningside Drive home.

The officer immediately recognized all four boys from his job as a school resource officer. Kelly told the officer that she heard “hollering” outside and saw the boys at her neighbor’s home. When they walked up to her residence, she came outside and “put the four males on the ground.”

She said later that the boys were “goofing off and screwing around” in her neighbor’s driveway. “They were throwing balls and cutting up and doing everything in her yard...they were banging on her mailbox...it was not selling behavior, I’m sorry. It was suspicious.”

While the boys waited by the squad car, Jerri called them over to shake their hands. The incident report says, “Mrs. Kelly is seen making hand gestures referring to her skin color versus the boys’ skin color, but that Mr. Kelly is in law enforcement and that she was in law enforcement for seven years and reiterates, ‘It ‘aint about that.’”

According to the report, Jerri insisted there was “suspicious activity,” telling the kids, “If you’re going to sell cards, act like you’re selling cards” and “Don’t act like that. Be men about it and sell cards.”

She also said, “Don’t be silly...please. It’s your life you’re talking about...for me, will you do that?”

Two hours later, Jerri visited the boys’ school seeking their contact information for “closure” and to buy them lunch.

Jerri’s brother told Fox 13 Memphis that she is disabled, experiences seizures, and felt threatened by the boys.

When police visited Jerri’s neighbor, she confirmed that the boys had knocked on her door to sell cards, but had not behaved suspiciously. Another neighbor claimed the boys were playing hide-and-seek and jumped into the back of a homeowner’s boat parked in their garage.

School superintendent Carl Easley tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “The Wynne School District and Wynne community are very concerned about the events of last week. We know that the students involved did nothing to provoke such a reaction from Mrs. Kelley. We have been humbled by the calls from across the country in support of our students.”

No one at the Kelly residence answered the phone when called for comment by Yahoo Lifestyle.

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