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Friday, January 27, 2023

Parents Arrested, Tasered While Trying To Enter The Campus Of The Arizona School That Was On Locked

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Three parents were arrested, two of whom were tasered, during a confrontation outside an Arizona elementary school that was closed Friday over a report of someone holding a gun, El Mirage police said.

The Thompson Ranch Elementary School was closed after a report around 10:30 a.m. that someone who appeared to have a gun had tried to open a locked door and fled, El Mirage Police Department Lieutenant Commander Jimmy Chavez said.

That person was later taken into custody and evaluated by mental health professionals, police in El Mirage, a town northwest of Phoenix, said in a later statement. The statement does not say whether a weapon was found.

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

The security crisis in El Mirage came just over two months after a mass shooting and botched police action at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 children and two teachers.

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

Outside the school in Arizona, the three parents were arrested Friday because several parents said they would go to the locked campus to protect their children, Chavez said.

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

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

The other two, a man and a woman, were tasered and arrested after coming to his rescue, he said.

“They tried to physically enter the campus and got into an argument with our agents,” Chavez said. “They pushed vigorously on the officers trying to reach the campus.”

Police had gathered at the elementary school after school staff reported that someone who appeared to have a gun tried to enter an outside building, but the door was locked and the man was chased away by staff, Chavez said.

Some of the information was contradictory, Chavez said. At one point, when police were clearing a corridor, they found what was described as a suspicious package, forcing students and staff to leave the area, he said. The police statement said it was “made safe” but did not say what the item was.

It is illegal to have firearms on the school campus, Chavez said. The parent with the gun is facing charges related to that violation and disorderly conduct, he said. Charges against the other two parents were not clear. Their names have not been released.

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

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

“This is being done in conjunction with law enforcement so that they can evacuate every part of the campus to ensure the safety of all students and staff. In addition, schools are gun-free zones and it is a crime to possess a firearm on a school campus,” the district said.

El Mirage is a town of approximately 35,800 residents, located about 15 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix. Thompson Elementary is a K-8 school with more than 600 students, according to its website.

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