Police shoot teen near youth shelter
Boy, 16, dies; Marion officers on leave
A 16-year-old boy died after he was shot Tuesday evening by Marion police officers outside an emergency shelter for youths, authorities said.
Aries Clark died in a Memphis hospital after he was shot in front of the East Arkansas Youth Services at 104 Cypress Ave. in Marion about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Two Marion police officers have been placed on paid leave pending an investigation into the shooting, according to Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley. No officers were injured.
Crittenden County Sheriff Mike Allen said no deputies were involved in the shooting.
Kelley would not comment on the case, saying Arkansas State Police agents are conducting the investigation.
“I can’t go into the case at
all,” Kelley said. “It’s an ongoing investigation. We’re waiting for the state police to finish the investigation, and we’ll go from there.”
Kelley would not say whether Clark was armed when he was shot and would not say why police were summoned to the East Arkansas Youth Services facility.
Two sources said Clark was a resident of the facility and left without permission earlier this week. He returned to the center Tuesday evening and tried to get back inside but a door was locked, the sources said.
State police spokesman Bill Sadler said he couldn’t discuss the case and that officers will present their investigation to Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington to determine if the use of deadly force was justified.
Donald Britton, who lives about 100 yards from East Arkansas Youth Services on Cypress Avenue, said he did not hear any gunshots Tuesday evening, but he saw numerous police and emergency vehicles racing to the center.
“I didn’t know what was happening,” he said. “I did see 20 to 25 police cars. They had the road blocked off.
“I don’t know what to think about it. I don’t know all the circumstances yet.”
The center serves juvenile offenders and foster children for seven eastern Arkansas counties, said East Arkansas Youth Services executive director Madelyn Keith. It offers nonresidential services for boys and girls ages 8-18, and residential services for boys in the same age range.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services contracts with the center to provide residential care to some children in foster care and others who are in the Youth Services Division’s after-care program, said Amy Webb, a spokesman with the department.
The center is licensed by the department to provide services for 20 youths, Webb said. Twelve youngsters were living there Tuesday evening, Webb said.
The center opened in 1989 as a private, nonprofit organization. It has satellite offices in Fort Smith and in Cross County, Keith said.
She would not say how many were in the center at the time of the shooting, nor why police were summoned to the location.
The center released a statement Wednesday in which Keith said, “We did want to report for those who have expressed concern that the staff and residents are safe and that no one inside the facility was harmed.” Keith said “we cannot speculate or comment on the specifics at this time as the investigation is ongoing.”
She said mental-health workers met with center staff members and youngsters Wednesday.
“We ask for your continued support in this challenging role,” Keith said in the statement. “We also request your prayers for our operations and specifically for all individuals and entities involved by this incident. In turn, we also offer our sincere prayers for all affected by this event.”
In an annual report of East Arkansas Youth Services’ fiscal 2015-16, released in February, the center saw 44 “serious incidents” during the period, a 5 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. “Serious incidents” included residents leaving the facility without permission, arrests, medical emergencies, and suicidal threats and gestures.
Keith said the increase could be attributed to “high numbers” of arrests of nonresidential clients in Crittenden County.
She also noted that seven of the 30 people who worked at the Marion center quit or were fired during fiscal 201516. Ellington said Wednesday that he will decide if the shooting was justified or if it warrants criminal charges once he receives the state police investigators’ findings.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services contracts with the center to provide residential care to some children in foster care and others who are in the Youth Services Division’s after-care program.