Video released of ROTC assault suspect fighting with officers

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by Andrew Michalscheck and Kristine Harrington

Bio | Email | Follow: @kharrington3tv

Video report by Kristine Harrington

Posted on January 17, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 18 at 1:19 PM

MESA, Ariz. -- A 25-year-old man is facing numerous charges after police said he attacked students at Mesa High School Wednesday morning and later assaulted officers while being booked into jail.

Mesa police said four members of the Junior ROTC were raising the flag outside the school when Ceaser Ruben Meraz rushed the group and attacked them.

The incident happened at 6:30 a.m. before students and faculty arrived on campus.

Three students suffered injuries ranging from bruises to stitches in what the school is calling a random act of violence.

"This gentleman just attacked them from behind -- as fast as it started it ended," said Kent Ellis, whose son was one of the victims. "He was hit from behind at the base of his head."

Police said Meraz waited near campus after the attack and was located by the school's resource officer.

Police said Meraz, a former Mesa High School student, had no reason to be on campus.

Meraz reportedly admitted to assaulting the students, telling the resource officer that he "felt like getting in a fight."

The officer cited Meraz for the altercation and had him transported to his home where he was released from custody.

The officer's chain of command was made aware of the incident later in the day and Meraz was taken back into custody.

"If something like this occurs, if someone walks onto campus to assault either staff or students, they’re going jail," said police spokesman Sgt. Tony Landato. "There's no tolerance for this by our department and this city."

Landato said Meraz assaulted a police officer and a detention officer while being booked into jail. The crime was caught on camera.

"The subject just punched him," Landato said. "He ended up assaulting one of our detention officers and another officer who came to the aide of the detention officer."

That's when officers tackled and tased the suspect.

Meraz faces charges of four counts of misdemeanor assault, one count of disrupting an educational institution, one count of disorderly conduct, one count of criminal trespass, one count of aggravated assault on a peace officer and one count of aggravated assault on a detention officer.

Ellis said schools need to be more aware about who is walking on campus.

"I think people should be aware that people can walk onto these campuses and we should have people there," Ellis said. "Adults, not necessarily police officers, but adults when activities for these kids are going on."

The Mesa High School principal has reportedly moved the flag ceremony from 6:45 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. so the school resource officer and other adults will be on campus.

 

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