Friday, September 30

Parents arrested, tased during confrontation as Arizona school was on lockdown


Three parents were arrested, two of whom were tased, during a confrontation outside an Arizona elementary school that had been locked down over a report of someone with a gun Friday, El Mirage police said.

Thompson Ranch Elementary School was locked down after a report around 10:30 am that someone who appeared to have a handgun had tried to open a locked door and ran off, El Mirage police Lt. Jimmy Chavez said.

That person was later taken into custody and was being evaluated by mental health professionals, police in El Mirage, a city northwest of Phoenix, said in a later statement. The statement did not say if any gun was found.

Police said criminal charges are pending against the man, whose identity has not been released, but did not say what they could be.

The security scare in El Mirage occurred a little more than two months after a mass shooting and botched police response at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

People walk outside the Thompson Ranch Elementary School during a school lockdown due to reports of a suspicious person on campus.kpnx

Outside the school in Arizona on Friday, the three parents were arrested as several parents said they were going to go onto the locked-down campus to protect their children, Chavez said.

“As a parent, I understand that philosophy, however, there were procedures that law enforcement and the school were following,” Chavez told reporters at the scene.

One of those arrested, a man described as the “main instigator,” was armed and a handgun fell to the ground as he was being arrested, Chavez said.

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The other two, a man and a woman, were tased and arrested after they came to his aid, he said.

“They were physically attempting to get into campus, and they were getting into physical altercations with our officers,” Chavez said. “They were forcefully pushing onto the officers trying to get on campus.”

Police had converged on the elementary school after school staff reported that someone who appeared to have a handgun tried to get into an exterior building but the door was locked, and the man was chased off by staff, Chavez said.

Some of the information was contradictory, Chavez said. At one point as police were clearing a hallway they found what was described as a suspicious package, which prompted students and staff to be moved out of the area, he said. The police statement said it was “rendered safe” but did not say what the item was.

It is illegal to have firearms on school campuses, Chavez said. The parent with the gun faces a charge related to that violation as well as disorderly conduct, he said. Charges against the other two parents were not clear. Their names have not been released.

One of the two parents tased was injured and taken to a hospital for treatment, he said.

Dysart Unified School District in a news release reminded parents that during a lockdown no one can enter or leave campus.

“This is done in partnership with law enforcement so they can clear each and every part of campus to ensure the safety of all students and staff. Additionally, schools are gun-free zones and it is a felony to possess a firearm on any school campus,” the district said, according to NBC affiliate KPNX of Phoenix.

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El Mirage is a city of around 35,800, around 15 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix. Thompson Elementary is a K-8 school with over 600 students, according to its website.


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