GULFPORT (FOX 13) - Gulfport police said more charges could be filed against a registered sex offender who was driving children to school in an illegally-tagged vehicle without a driver's license.
So far the only charge against 57-year old Arnette Harrington is the driver's license issue.
When he was stopped by Gulfport police Monday morning, Harrington had 14 children in the van, including a 2-year-old.
"Fourteen kids in the van. Certainly not made to hold fourteen people, that's for sure" Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent told FOX 13 News. "He could be cited for child restraint violations because they're supposed to be restrained in a designated seat, the young ones of course. The 2-year-old in there was supposed to be in a child's seat."
There may also be issues for the owner of the van, which Vincent said had an illegal tag, and the "company" operating the shuttle service. D & Dee Transportation is not registered with the state, and features of the vehicle include a front passenger window covered by a makeshift piece of plexiglass.
Harrington was convicted of sexual battery in 1998, but is not under any restrictions.
"A lot of people are under the misperceptions that sex offenders can't be anywhere near children. That only applies to ones that are still supervised by the court" Vincent said. "It's kind of unfortunate, but nothing says he can't do it."
Police were alerted to the situation Friday afternoon when an officer encountered a distressed child who was dropped off at his home with no adult present.
Police knew the shuttle would be running again Monday morning, and officers waited for it at Gulfport Elementary.
"There's no indication that he did anything inappropriate with the kids, other than drive without a license," Vincent said.
After handcuffing Harrington and placing him in a cruiser, they contacted all of the schools and parents of the children. Harrington was released after being issued a summons to appear on the misdemeanor charge of driving without a license.