Did North Pointe senior prank based on violent horror movie go too far?

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(Source: NorthPointePrep.com) (Source: NorthPointePrep.com)

Some parents and alumni of a Phoenix school are fuming in the wake of a senior prank they say went too far. And that has others riled up, saying those who are upset are blowing things out of proportion.

It happened at North Point Prep. The prank was turned into a video and posted on the school's Facebook page – with the support of the school's administration.

The prank simulated a 2013 horror flick called "The Purge." Set in a dystopian America, the movie is about a Constitutional amendment that makes crime, including violent crime, legal for a specific 12-hour period once a year.

"It's one night when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment," according to the movie's page on IMDB.com.

The movie spawned a franchise – two sequels in 2014 and 2016 ("The Purge: Anarchy" and "The Purge: Election Year") and a prequel ("The Purge: The Island") is set for release in July 2018.

On  Friday, Sept, 22, a video of a simulated kidnapping was played on the school's closed-circuit TV system, followed by a warning, similar to something that would be seen on the national Emergency Alert System.

"This is not a test. This is your emergency broadcast system announcing the commencement of the Senior purge. Water guns and super soakers have been authorized for use during the purge. All other weapons are restricted. Staff and Faculty have been granted immunity from the purge and shall not be harmed. Commencing at the sirens any and all shooting of water guns will be legal. May the Falcon be with you all."

Senior class representatives wearing masks and packing water guns then burst into classrooms and opened "fire."  

"I don't think that was their goal to make it look like a school shooting by any means, but with a movie that graphic and frightening as your theme, you go into kind of dangerous territory," North Pointe alum Rochelle Harris said. "I just thought it was in poor taste. To do a simulation of anything violent really bothered me."

She's not alone. Debate raged on social media with some saying it was all in good fun.

"My child is a senior at North Pointe and all these kids were trying to do is have fun," one woman wrote on the Facebook post. "I was told about it before the prank and kids are having fun. If your child doesn't attend the school you shouldn't be worrying about what happens there."

"This was just a funny harmless prank. Stop freaking out and making it more than it is," a man wrote. "Calm down it was just a joke."

Others argued that it was inappropriate and a "terrible representation of the school."

"This is disgusting," a woman commented.

"I think you have to be really sensitive when it comes to anything violent, especially at a school," Harris said. 

Administrators declined to speak with reporter Donna Rossi – even without a camera rolling -- going so far as to have her removed from campus.According to the Phoenix Police Department, the administration approached the off-duty officer on campus and advised him about the prank and asked for help making sure it was done safely. The officer advised against the plan, but, after being told the prank was happening, checked the water gun, zip tying them so people would know that they had been checked. The process, according to police, is similar to what they do at Comicon.

In May, a man armed with guns and knives, real ones, was arrested at Phoenix Comicon.

Guest Interview 9/22/17 from North Pointe Prep on Vimeo.

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Donna RossiEmmy Award-winning reporter Donna Rossi joined CBS 5 News in September 1994.

Click to learn more about Donna.

Donna Rossi

In that time, Donna has covered some of the most high-profile stories in the Valley and across the state. Donna's experience as a four-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department gives her a keen sense of crime and court stories. She offered gavel to gavel coverage of the 1999 sleepwalking murder trial of Scott Falater, and the trial and conviction of retired Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien for a fatal hit and run accident. She also spent 2 straight weeks in northeastern Arizona in the summer of 2011 covering the Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Donna's reputation as a fair and accurate journalist has earned her the respect of her colleagues and community. Her talent as a reporter has earned her more than a dozen Arizona Associated Press Awards and five Emmy statue.

Donna previously worked as an anchor and reporter in Tucson and got her start in broadcast journalism in Flagstaff. Donna is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the NATAS board. She is a member of IFP/Phoenix, a non-profit organization of local film and documentary makers.

Donna was born in New York and moved to the Valley with her family when she was 9 years old. She is a graduate of Maryvale High School and attended Arizona State University. She graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University.

In her free time, Donna enjoys boating on Bartlett Lake, all forms of music and theatre. Donna frequently donates her time to speak to community organizations and emcee their events. She is a past board member of DUET, a non-profit which helps promote health and well-being for older adults. Donna also loves donating her time to youth organizations and groups who work to secure and safeguard human rights.

On Oct. 17, 2015, Donna was honored for her amazing work over the years. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences inducted her into its Silver Circle. It's one of the organization's most prestigious honors for which only a few candidates are selected each year.

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