Wife of Arkansas jailer pulled gun on 4 black students fundraising for football, cops say

The wife of an Arkansas county jailer is accused of pulling a gun on four black high school football players going door-to-door for a back-to-school athletic fundraiser.

Jerri Kelly, 46, of Wynne, was arrested Monday and charged with four counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a minor, according to FOX13 in Memphis. Wynne, which has a population of about 8,000, is about 50 miles west of the Tennessee city.

Credit: Cross County Sheriff's Office via AP

Credit: Cross County Sheriff's Office via AP

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The Wynne Progress reported that a Facebook post by the mother of one of the players explained the situation: The four teens were selling discount cards to raise money for Wynne High School's athletic program.

Athletic programs across the country have their athletes sell cards that offer discounts at local restaurants and businesses to raise funds for new equipment and other needs their cash-strapped school districts cannot afford.

"These boys had on their football jerseys, and this is common around this time of year in Wynne," the post states, according to the newspaper. "All this lady had to do was say, 'No, thank you,' and close the door, but instead she chose to pull a gun out and traumatize these boys."

Police officials confirmed Kelly is the wife of Cross County Jail administrator Joe Kelly.

Family members of the boys told FOX13 the teens, who began going door-to-door after football practice at Wynne High School, never even made it to the Kellys' front door. The students said they were walking up her driveway when Jerri Kelly emerged from the house, gun in hand, and ordered them down on the ground with their hands on their heads.

The father of two of the teens spoke to the news station, but without showing his face out of fear of retaliation.

"It makes me feel that if they had moved in any type of way then she would have shot and killed my boys and maybe their friends," the man said, adding that he believes Kelly racially profiled the children.

“I mean, why would they look suspicious when you had a construction crew up the road doing construction?” he asked.

The distraught father alleged that Kelly used her husband’s position as leverage as the boys lay on the driveway.

"She kept asking them, 'Do you know who the hell I am? Do you know who I am?'" the man told FOX13.

Wynne police Chief Jackie Clark told the Progress the incident for which Kelly was arrested took place around 10 a.m. Aug. 7. Officers were called to Kelly's home on the report of "suspicious persons."

"Upon arrival of our officers, four juveniles were found lying on the ground with a female adult with a gun standing," Clark said in a news release. "Our officer had the children stand up, and they explained they were selling discount cards for a school athletic program."

The grandmother of one of the boys told FOX13 her grandson said he thought he was going to die that morning.

"'She put the gun right at my head,' he said," according to the woman. "'I made my peace with God that if I died, I'd make it to heaven.'"

None of the children were physically hurt and Kelly was arrested following an investigation into her actions. Kelly's brother told FOX13 his sister, who he said is disabled and suffers from seizures, felt threatened by the teens.

"As always, the Wynne Police Department is committed to protecting our citizens," Clark said in his statement. "Our kids and elderly are our most precious assets and all the necessary steps will be taken to protect them."

Kelly, whose bond was set at $10,000, was released Tuesday. She was due in court Thursday morning for her first appearance.

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