Gun incident on school playground upsets father

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. - A Martinsville father is raising concerns about a gun incident that occurred on a school playground and the resulting punishment for the man charged with the crime, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

Jason Terrell said his son Branson, 14, was playing basketball at Central Elementary on March 14 at 5 p.m. when Damian Arnett, 18, pointed a gun at him.

"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.

Arnett is not a student and withdrew from the district in 2009, according to school district spokeswoman Donna Petraits.

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

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. "I let the system work and the system failed."

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.

Kenney spoke with Arnett on the phone, who declined to be interviewed on camera.

He called the gun incident a misunderstanding, and said he has no plans to apologize.

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."

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.         

Follow Kara Kenney on Twitter: @karakenney6 | Facebook: KaraKenneyNews

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