Po­lice shoot teen near youth shel­ter

Boy, 16, dies; Mar­ion of­fi­cers on leave

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - KEN­NETH HEARD

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.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette

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