Suspect apologizes for playground gun incident

INDIANAPOLIS - A Martinsville man has issued an apology for pointing a gun at a 14-year-old on a school playground, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

Police said Damian Arnett, 18, pointed a gun at Branson Terrell, 14, and threatened him while Terrell was playing basketball at Central Elementary on March 14.

"I want to start off by apologizing to the family of Branson for endangering him," said Arnett in an apology issued Tuesday. "I also apologize to the children and the families of those children who were at or around the school at that time."

Terrell's father, Jason, contacted the Call 6 Investigators last week, upset about the gun incident.

"He got him in a headlock and held a gun to his head," said Terrell. "It was over a piece of pizza. (Arnett) handed my son a piece of pizza and my son said it was cold and threw it down."

Police arrested Arnett off school property and determined the gun was actually a BB gun.

Prosecutors charged Arnett with two counts each of intimidation and battery.

"I take full responsibility for my actions, which has in turn lead (sic) to my consequences," said Arnett in his written apology.

The probable cause mentions pictures on Arnett's Facebook page of Arnett holding a gun in his pants' waistband and to his head, saying "F*** the police, arrest me?"

Arnett spent two months in jail.

But Kenney has learned Arnett will likely avoid any additional jail time.

According to a court document signed May 13, Arnett reached a deferral type agreement with the court where he agrees to one year probation, or "pre-trial release," and must participate in a job-seeker class.

In May 2015, the prosecutor and Arnett's attorney will reconvene, and if Arnett stayed out of trouble, the charges could be dropped.

"Where's the apology for my son, justice for my son, where's the justice for all the kids that play over there?" said Terrell last week. "I let the system work and the system failed."

Arnett wrote: "I understand that the family does not think that the punishment is enough but in order to realize the punishment, you have to understand my past, if you did not grow up with me you wouldn't understand my childhood.

"I fended for myself and ran the streets at a very young age. I never cared for others (sic) wellbeing, but understanding that I'm an adult and (Branson) is a mere child, the consequences should have been more severe, but they have seen potential in me."

Terrell said his son is afraid.

"(Arnett) has got to pay the punishment for the crime that was committed, and as a father I want to protect my son," said Terrell. 

Arnett plans to get his GED and join the military.

His defense attorney Michael Ice did not return repeated requests for comment.

The Metropolitan School District of Martinsville declined to provide someone for an on-camera interview, saying the gun incident happened after school hours.

School policy states, "The School Board prohibits students from possessing, storing, making, or using a weapon in any setting that is under the control and supervision of the District for the purpose of school activities approved and authorized by the District including, but not limited to, property leased, owned, or contracted for by the District, a school-sponsored event, or in a District vehicle."

School district spokeswoman Donna Petraits said the situation in question would not fall under this policy unless it occurred during the school day or during a school-sponsored activity.

"It's still a school," said Terrell. "I think the school should have notified parents there was a gun on school property."

Terrell said in light of the 2011 Martinsville West Middle School shooting that left a student injured, as the gun pulled on his son, he wants the community to take a tougher stance on guns.

"All he didn't do was pull the trigger," said Terrell.

Arnett is not a student and withdrew from the district in 2009, Petraits said.

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