Jail administrator's wife arrested after allegedly pulling gun on black students who were fundraising

Justin Chan

The wife of an Arkansas jail administrator was arrested on Monday after she allegedly pulled a gun on four black students who were going door-to-door to raise money for a school athletic program, according to WMC.

Wynne police charged 46-year-old Jerri Kelly, wife of Cross County Jail administrator Joe Kelly, with four counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a minor. Her arrest came days after she reportedly held the teenagers hostage outside a home.

Last Wednesday morning, officers responded to a report of "suspicious persons" and found Jerri standing over four juveniles who were lying on the ground, Wynne Police Chief Jackie Clark said. Jerri purportedly had a gun in her hand.

According to Clark, one of the officers then let the teenagers stand up and they explained that they were selling cards as part of a school fundraiser. Bill Winkler, a resident who has lived in the neighborhood for four decades, told WMC that he often sees the students going door-to-door and that it was nothing new.

"Usually, it's right before football season, late summer or early fall the kids were out selling these discount cards," he said.

Still, Winkler admitted that he was alarmed that Wednesday's incident happened in the first place.

"They’re just kids," he said. "You worry about your neighborhood, and you wonder who is this person."

Cross County Sheriff David West — who Jerri's husband, Joe, reports to — said that Jerri did not get preferential treatment when she was booked. Joe also still has his job, the sheriff added.

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

Wynne Superintendent Carl Easley told the station that the district notified the teenagers's parents about the confrontation and is now reconsidering the idea of letting students conduct door-to-door sales.

Clark said a circuit judge set Jerri's bond at $10,000.

"As we focus on our children, no bond will ever be set too high to protect our children, but in the real world bonds are only set to guarantee appearances in court," the police chief said in a statement. "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."

When pressed again on whether Jerri's arrest was treated differently than others, Clark demurred.

"This is about those four kids, and our focus is completely on those kids," Clark said.