Charges upgraded against middle school coach

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — Deputies added felony charges and a $100,500 bond Sunday after a Corriher-Lipe Middle School coach allegedly choked a student, assaulted a parent and had a handgun on school grounds Thursday afternoon.
According to a Magistrate’s Office report, Jared John Gallagher, 40, was arrested about 10:30 a.m. and charged with felony kidnapping for “restraining the victim without consent of the victim’s parent,” felony strangulation and misdemeanor interfering with emergency communication and carrying a concealed weapon.
Rowan County Sheriff’s Office deputies said Thursday that Gallagher, the assistant football coach, choked a 12-year-old student as they went to the locker room after football practice on Thursday. Deputies also found a semi-automatic, 9 mm handgun with 79 rounds in his truck when authorities searched it.
A magistrate’s report said the seventh-grader had “red marks and scratches around his neck by strangulation” and that Gallagher is accused of “placing his right arm around the neck of the victim and holding him in a choke hold until he turned blue.”
When the head coach, Douglas Pruitt, saw the incident, the report said, he shouted at Gallagher to stop.
Gallagher then tried to fight with Pruitt and twisted Pruitt’s arm behind his back when Pruitt tried to call 911.
Pruitt declined to comment.
A parent stepped in, the report said, and fought with Gallagher while Pruitt made the emergency phone call.
Pruitt told deputies “punches were exchanged between Gallagher and the parent.”
When officers arrived, Gallagher demanded a deputy remove his sunglasses and said, according to the report, “Are we going to do this?”
Deputies used their Tasers three times on Gallagher, before restraining him.
After restraining the man, the report said, Assistant Principal Gary Barringer asked officers to seize Gallagher’s school keys.
The seventh-grader was “visibly shaken” after the incident, the report said.
Gallagher began as a substitute teacher for the school in September 2009 and was soon hired as the teacher assistant overseeing in-school suspensions.
Parents were notified on Friday via the online communications platform Connect Ed by Principal Beverly Pugh and students were also given a letter to take home to parents.
The letter referred to Gallagher’s arrest as “the incident” and did not mention the pistol.
The middle school had additional law enforcement officers on school grounds on Friday and Saturday.
Gallagher was initially charged with misdemeanor child abuse, misdemeanor possession of a weapon on educational grounds, misdemeanor assault on a school employee and misdemeanor resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer and given a $5,000 bond.
Gallagher was in jail Sunday night. He was scheduled to have his first appearance in court at 9 a.m. today.