A man who disrobed on the Austin High School campus Monday claimed he was “high on Jesus,” urinated on a car and lifted his arms to the sky as though inviting lightning to strike him, school officials said.
Principal Don Snow said he corralled the man between two cars in the parking lot in an attempt to keep him out of sight until police arrived, but by that time, students “already saw more than they needed to.”
Police said Ronald Ray Fletcher, 27, of 1622 Eighth St. S.W., cooperated with School Resource Officer Rance Sutherlin when Sutherlin arrested him outside the school for indecent exposure.
But Fletcher became agitated while being taken to the city jail and was uncooperative during the booking process, police spokesman Lt. John Crouch said.
Fletcher attempted to check a student out about 2 p.m. but was refused.
“He got into his car, drove onto the grass and began driving around and around in circles on the grass on the school property,” Crouch said.
The black car, with a tag that read “Blessed,” was still idling on the grass while officers put towels on Fletcher in the back seat of a patrol car.
Officials said Fletcher apparently threw hubcaps from his car at the nearest school building.
Assistant Principal Will Green confronted him in front of the school.
“He got out of his car, pulled his shirt off and raised his hands over his head,” Green said.
Green said Fletcher asked for a student, the same one he had tried to check out earlier.
In a parking lot in front of the M building, Fletcher removed the rest of his clothes and walked to the E building, Green said.
Senior Morgan Hampton said all the students in her math class looked outside at once because hail from an afternoon thunderstorm stopped at the exact moment Fletcher came into view.
“He came through the courtyard and he was dressed, but right outside our window, the pants came off,” Hampton said.
Hampton said the man was “just casually walking and waving,” and she heard laughter erupt from other classrooms down the hallway as he passed.
“He was completely naked. His shirt was on the ground. His pants were on the ground. He was not ashamed of anything.” Hampton said.
The classes were put on lockdown and told to close the blinds, she said.
Green said he walked up behind Fletcher as he began to urinate on the side of a car, and Fletcher told him, “You want to watch? It’s just water.”
He said he gladly let Snow take charge of the situation when the principal arrived.
“He was parading in front of all those windows on that side of the building,” Snow said.
Snow said he pushed Fletcher between two parked cars to get him out of sight.
“He kept trying to come out, and I would push him back between the cars,” Snow said. “He didn’t try to fight me. He made a couple of comments about me putting my hands on him, and I told him I wouldn’t have to put my hands on him if he did what I told him.”
The man wasn’t behaving violently or acting angrily, and didn’t make any lewd gestures, Snow said.
“He just didn’t act normal. With normal, you sort of know what to do,” the principal said. “I didn’t know if I take him down, am I going to have to hurt him? Or is he going to hurt me?”
Snow said he tried to talk to Fletcher to keep him calm. “I asked him if he was high, and he said, “ ‘I’m high on Jesus,’ ” Snow said.
School Safety Supervisor Dwight Satterfield said a school alert sent out after the incident mistakenly identified Fletcher as the same man who on March 28, 2012, went to the school and threatened to kill students. The confusion arose because both men had the same last name, Satterfield said.
Police found no weapons in Fletcher’s possession or in his vehicle, Crouch said.
“Because of his mental state, the school resource officers were not able to interview him at the police department,” he said. “Once he calms down, they hope to interview him and find out what he was doing at the school and what his connection was to the student.”
Jailers contacted the Morgan County Department of Mental Health, and a caseworker was reviewing records to find out if Fletcher was receiving treatment.
Crouch said jailers were unable to photograph Fletcher on Monday but had a photo on file from a 2008 arrest on a personal warrant charging him with harassing communications. Crouch said he did not know the details of that case.
Seth Burkett can be reached at 256-340-2446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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