AUSTIN — A day after a boy was arrested and charged with a felony for throwing a snowball at a police officer, students outside George Leland Elementary continued to build snowmen and throw snowballs at each other after school.
According to police, a 13-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile with felony aggravated battery against a police officer Wednesday after he hit the officer in the arm with a snowball while the officer was parked in his vehicle in the 4900 block of West Congress Parkway about 3:20 p.m.
Residents sounded off on the crime and punishment the next day, many describing the charge as police "going overboard."
"It's not fair," said Mary Grant, a longtime resident of the block. The boy "was being hardheaded, but that's very harsh. The officer should've tried something different than arrest."
The boy is believed to be a student at Leland Elementary School, formerly May Elementary, which sits at the southeast corner of the intersection near where the snowball was thrown. Officials at the school acknowledged that the incident occurred but declined to comment.
"I think that's ridiculous — it's such a big charge," said Latanya Powell, a construction worker on the block. "It's just going overboard. I can see if it were a weapon and harm was done, but it was just a snowball.
"This is a case of kids being kids."
Like other residents on the block, Powell wondered whether the charge would stain the boy's record well into his adult years, hurting his chances of finding a job, housing and education.
Often, findings on juveniles found delinquent do not remain part of their permanent record.
But according to Ray Fields, an educator and resident of the block, the charge and arrest were justified.
"If [the boy] had gotten away with it, who's to say what they'd do next? If it doesn't stick to them now, they'll be 16 or 17, and they'll have a gun," Fields said, adding that he has experience with local teens as a teacher and was the victim of a home burglary by neighborhood teens in 2010.
"If we as parents and educators don't teach them right from wrong, then what are we teaching them?" Fields added, arguing that the charge could help the boy change his ways before a more serious incident occurs.
Police did not provide further details on the case Thursday night.