The operator of an eastern Arkansas emergency shelter for juveniles where a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed by police is asking for prayers but saying little else about the incident.
Aries Clark was shot Tuesday night and died at a hospital after the incident outside East Arkansas Youth Services in Marion. Officers opened fire shortly after arriving at the facility about 10 miles (16 kilometers) northwest of Memphis, Tennessee. No one has said why police were called or whether they felt endangered.
East Arkansas Youth Services is a nonprofit that “provides positive alternatives to institutionalization” for at-risk children, according to its website. Boys and girls ages 8 to 18 receive services there, but only boys can live there.
Madelyn Keith, the nonprofit’s executive director and CEO, said in a Facebook post that no one in the facility was harmed and that its managers and staff have cooperated with investigators.
“We also request your prayers for our operations and specifically for all individuals and entities involved in this incident. In turn, we also offer our sincere prayers for all affected by this event,” wrote Keith. She told The Associated Press on Thursday morning that Clark was not a resident of the facility at the time of the shooting, but she declined further comment.
The teen’s mother, Vicky Clark, told Memphis television station WMC that the family had been seeking help for her son because he was being disruptive.
“I never expected not to see my son again,” Vicky Clark said in a tearful interview with the TV station. “I had saw him that Thursday and we were trying to figure out how we were going to do therapy and things to get him help.”
Arkansas State Police said Marion police went to the home at 7:08 p.m. Tuesday and that “moments later” reported that a teenager had been shot and wounded by police. The agency said it was investigating and that its results would be forwarded to area prosecutors to determine whether the shooting was justified.
No one would say why Clark was at the home Tuesday night. Memphis and Little Rock media reported that two Marion officers have been placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation moves forward.
Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that no officers were injured, but he declined to release any details about the shooting, including why police were summoned to the facility.
“I can’t go into the case at all,” Kelley told the newspaper. “It’s an ongoing investigation. We’re waiting for the state police to finish the investigation, and we’ll go from there.”
The Arkansas Department of Human Services said the shelter contracts with the state to provide services to children in foster care and children who have been involved in the juvenile justice system. Spokeswoman Amy Webb declined to comment on the shooting or say whether the boy had received services at the youth shelter. Webb said the facility has had a “favorable compliance history” without any current issues or concerns.