It was suppose to be a fun afternoon for parents and players on the Princeton Bulldogs and Selma Yellow Jackets youth football teams. Instead an 11 year-old player was allegedly assaulted by a parent while on the field as others looked on in disbelief. Numerous police officers had to be called to restore order.
The two teams met last Saturday, Oct. 27th at the Smithfield Selma High School football field for a Selma Parks and Recreation sponsored game involving the two teams whose players were all age 12 and under.
According to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, a group of 5 to 6 Princeton Bulldog parents came out of the bleachers and began standing on the sideline of the football field shouting towards the opposing team. An off-duty deputy school resource officer hired for security at the event was attempting to move the unruly parents behind a fence when two players – one from each team – rolled out of bounds at the end of a play.
Witnesses allege that’s when one of the unruly parents who had come from the stands grabbed an 11 year-old player on the Selma Yellow Jackets team. The parent allegedly held the child by his face mask and jersey them slammed him to the ground. The Princeton parents continued shouting and became even more hostile, according to law enforcement.
Other concerned parents used their cell phones to dial 911. Several Smithfield police officers responded and helped the off-duty deputy restore order, but only temporarily.
As parents from both sides were leaving the stadium, some began gathering in the parking lot where arguing and shouting erupted a second time.
Selma fans were upset the suspect who assaulted the 11 year-old player was not immediately arrested. One African American parent called a white officer a racist for not making an immediate arrest.
The parent who allegedly assaulted the 11 year-old player was identified by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office as 40 year-old Robert Eugene Holloman of Hickory Crossroads Road, Princeton. Holloman was allowed to leave the game without being charged but warrants were obtained for his arrest afterwards charging him with assault on a child under 12 and disorderly conduct. Holloman turned himself in on Wednesday and was served with the misdemeanor warrants.
Law enforcement officers said they spoke with Holloman at the scene and informed him about the pending warrants. He was not detained at the football field, officials said, because they did not want to add anything to an already tense situation that was supposed to be a fun, family event.
No injuries were reported during the skirmish.
According to the NC Department of Public Safety website, Holloman has prior convictions for assault, assault inflicting serious injury, assault on a female, receiving stolen goods, injury to property, and permitting a dangerous dog to run loose.
In March 2014, Holloman was in the news after his arrest for allegedly selling a friend’s car to a salvage yard, a car his friend took to him to be repaired, according to a Johnston County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson at the time.
Selma Town Manager Elton Daniels was not aware of the incident until being notified Wednesday by WTSB. Later he issued a statement by email saying, “Our Recreation Department sponsors a wide range of youth, adult, and senior athletic programs throughout the year. As such, safety of participants and spectators is always our number one priority. According to Staff, over the weekend an alleged altercation occurred involving an adult spectator and a youth football player (on the field). Staff present did not see the altercation. The adult involved was escorted off the premises by law enforcement…. To my knowledge, the alleged victim (minor) did not suffer any injuries.”
“As a safety precaution, law enforcement is always present at our Town sponsored sporting events – prior to events starting and until our last employee leaves. Thankfully, the SRO present at this event was able to deescalate the situation. That said, the Town of Selma will continue to be proactive regarding the safety of all.”
Johnston County Public Schools spokesperson Crystal Roberts issued a one sentence statement saying, “When things like this happen, we immediately review our policies to ensure the safety and well-being of community members and those who utilize our fields and facilities.”
WTSB did reach out to the Princeton youth organization for a comment. As of our news deadline we had not been able to reach anyone.
Officials have not said if they plan to add additional security at upcoming games or whether additional safety measures will be taken when the two teams meet again.