Corriher-Lipe coach charged with having weapon, choking child

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 26, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
LANDIS — A Corriher-Lipe Middle School assistant football coach was arrested Thursday afternoon after deputies say he allegedly assaulted a 12-year-old student, a parent, the team’s head coach and had 79 rounds of ammunition and a 9 mm handgun in his vehicle.
According to a Rowan County Sheriff’s Office report, Jared John Gallagher, 924 Oval St., Kannapolis, was charged after deputies responded to a “fight in progress” at the school, 214 W. Rice St., after football practice on the first day of school.
Deputies arrived at about 5 p.m., the report said, and spoke to Gallagher, who was standing next to a group of men.
The school’s head football coach and physical education teacher, Douglas Pruitt, met with deputies and told them Gallagher was “acting violently and needed to be restrained,” the report said.
Pruitt told deputies that Gallagher attempted to strangle a seventh-grade student and had assaulted a parent.
Gallagher, the assistant football coach and full-time in-school suspension assistant for the school, asked the officer why he had on sunglasses, and Deputy William Lowery said he wanted to discuss the incident and not his sunglasses. The man then demanded the officer take off the glasses, according to the report, and clinched his fists.
The officer backed up and told Gallagher to put his hands behind his back, but the man took another step toward the officer and asked, “Are we going to do this?”
Deputy Lowery drew his Taser and again told Gallagher to place his hands behind his back, but Gallagher didn’t comply and was shocked by the deputy.
Gallagher reportedly pulled the prongs from his skin and was stunned again by another officer behind him, the report said.
After a third shock, Gallagher fell to the ground and was restrained by officers.
The report said after Gallagher was restrained, assistant principal Gary Barringer approached officers and told them Gallagher had keys to the school that he needed to take.
When deputies searched Gallagher’s truck for the keys, they found a 9 mm Beretta semi-automatic handgun with 79 rounds of ammunition, according to the report.
Rowan-Salisbury School System Spokesperson Rita Foil said Gallagher has been suspended without pay pending an investigation.
“We are in the process of contacting him,” Foil said.
According to Foil, Gallagher began working as a substitute teacher for the school on Sept. 3, 2009. Foil said he was hired as the in-school suspension teaching assistant on Sept. 30, 2009.
Foil said Corriher-Lipe had extra law enforcement officers on school grounds Friday and they would remain at the school until sports practices ended. She also said additional law enforcement would be on school grounds this morning for softball tryouts and football practice.
Parents were notified on Friday via the online communications platform Connect Ed by Principal Beverly Pugh. Students were also given a letter to take home to parents about the increased security measures.
Deputies spoke with the 12-year-old who was assaulted and said the boy appeared “visibly shaken.”
Pruitt told deputies that Gallagher pulled the boy aside as they were walking to the locker room after practice and began choking him.
Pruitt told Gallagher to stop, the report said, but Gallagher then tried to fight Pruitt.
Pruitt tried to dial 911, but Gallagher grabbed his arm and pulled it behind his back, the report said.
A nearby parent got Gallagher’s attention and began fighting Gallagher so that Pruitt could make the 911 call, the report said. Pruitt told officers “punches were exchanged between Gallagher and the parent.” After Pruitt made the call, he told the parent, who has not yet been identified, to back off. The report said the man did.
Gallagher was charged with misdemeanor child abuse, misdemeanor possession of a weapon on educational grounds, misdemeanor assault on an school employee and misdemeanor resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.
He was given a $5,000 bond. He was released after posting bond.