MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Elementary school students were arrested at school, handcuffed, and hauled off to juvenile detention for not breaking up a fight off school property.
The incident outraged parents of Hobgood Elementary School and surprised many in the Murfreesboro neighborhood.
A religious leader who spread the word on social media is calling them unjust arrests.
“We are not looking for some radical, uncivil response to this; we, as a community, are looking to come to a peaceful, respectful, and communal response,” said Pastor James McCarroll of First Baptist Church Murfreesboro.
McCarroll took to Facebook live Friday after finding out that some of the students arrested were allegedly innocent bystanders or were nowhere near the fight.
It has been shared more than 1,000 times and viewed more than 31,000 times.
“It’s hard to see a child arrested when they do something wrong being a child, but it’s even that much harder, and that much more difficult to stomach, a child being handcuffed that has done nothing wrong,” McCarroll said.
News 2 has learned the alleged fight happened in the backyard of a house on Riviera Drive during a game of pickup basketball a few weeks ago.
There is apparently a video that shows what occurs. One parent to ld News 2 it was no more than a scuffle of children pushing each other back and forth.
A meeting was held Sunday at First Baptist Church on Sunday as parents, police, and community members discussed what happened.
Parents expressed anger, some claiming their young kids were handcuffed and others said they were not notified of their children’s arrests.
“I have a 9-year-old and a 13-year-old who were arrested last Friday for a crime they weren’t even at,” a mother stated at the podium.
Zaccahaeus Crawford told News 2 he has five children. Two were arrested at school, and he turned his other child in later.
His children are ages 9, 10 and 11, and they all charged with criminal responsibility for another.
“When I got three kids getting arrested, three babies, two of which at the time were not even there, and are sick, diabetics,” Crawford told News 2.
Also at Sunday’s meeting, Officer Christopher Williams, who was on site during the time of the arrest, apologized to the families.
“On behalf of myself and so many others, I’m sorry. I apologize,” he said from the podium.
He went on to explain what happened to the children broke his heart.
“My wife has seen me cry twice. She saw me once when my grandfather died, and she saw me cry Friday. The principal shed tears, the vice principal shed tears, and the office staff shed tears,” Officer Williams explained.
Dozens expressed anger and asked the Murfreesboro police chief for answers.
“I’m sorry for the new police chief because you came into a fireball. And when I say fireball, hell is about to break loose if you do not get a handle on this,” one man stated from the crowd.
Chief Karl Durr told the community he will be investigating to see if what police did was legal and or necessary.
“We will take a look at this and say how can we do things better? How did we error and what can we do different next time?” Chief Durr said at the meeting.
Police told News 2 on Monday there are two sides to this story, but they can’t release many details because they have to protect the juveniles, both the victim and those accused.
Also on Monday, the Director of Communications with Murfreesboro City Schools gave News 2 the following statement: “The arrests that occurred at Hobgood Elementary last week were not a result of any behavior that occurred on school property. The school was merely the location of the arrests. The authority of the school is superseded when law enforcement or the Department of Children Services become involved.”