ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The brother of a St. Petersburg pastor has been arrested for child abuse, according to police.
Court records allege Tommy Ward, 62, pushed and shoved a 12-year-old student at Mount Moriah Christian Fundamental Academy.
The family of the 12-year-old student said he was pinned against the wall, leaving him with bruises and cuts on his upper body.
The principal of the middle school called the child’s mother, Kristie Holmes, Thursday afternoon saying her son, Kamrin, got into a verbal fight. Holmes said Tommy Ward allegedly left her son with bruises and scratches.
“How he forcefully had him from whatever area he started in and took him forcefully and knocked him into the garbage can in the restroom,” Holmes said.
Holmes went to the school and called the police herself. She said her 7th grader was interviewed, and Ward was arrested on a child abuse charge.
News Channel 8 called Pastor Robert Ward who told us his brother Tommy is a member of the church and volunteers to do maintenance work on the property, adding he is not an employee at the school.
“I want the parents to know that I am so saddened by it and I feel their pain and I apologize with the deepest of empathy and sympathy for what has occurred,” said Rev. Robert Ward, Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.
Robert Ward said his priority is protecting the students.
“It’s even more upsetting to me that it happened at my school and that it happened with one of my members because they know I preach and teach against these kinds of behaviors so I was shocked,” he said.
Holmes said she was told the incident was recorded, but the school said it is still investigating whether the system captured it on camera. She’s now removing her son from the school.
“I should’ve been able to see the tape, for one, and for two, if that was your family member and you were aware of that, why wouldn’t you say anything,” Holmes said.
Ward is facing a third-degree felony. He’s at the Pinellas County jail on a $5,000 bond.