Armed suspect arrested after trying to enter El Mirage school; 3 parents in custody
EL MIRAGE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — El Mirage Police say they’ve arrested a man who allegedly tried to enter an elementary school late Friday morning. Three parents, including one who had a gun, were also arrested by police after a confrontation with officers, investigators confirmed. Police have not yet released the man’s name.
According to police, staff at Thompson Ranch Elementary School called 911 around 10:30 a.m. Friday reporting that a suspicious man was trying to get into the school. School administrators immediately placed the campus on lockdown. As officers arrived, police say the suspect ran away towards the river bottom. El Mirage police and other nearby law enforcement agencies quickly responded and began searching the school and surrounding areas.
At first, El Mirage police reported they were unable to find the man, but they did locate a suspicious package. Children and staff were cleared from the area. A bomb squad was called in to check out the package and deemed it safe.
“Everyone in the class thought it was a joke. But then the first 30 minutes, everyone thought it was real because lockdowns don’t last that long,” said Lailani, a student at Thompson Ranch.
According to Chavez, parents started showing up after receiving calls from their kids. Chavez says the school was still on lockdown, and officers told parents they wouldn’t be let in the school. This is when some parents became confrontational with police, with some saying they were going to come in to protect their kids.
Chavez says the situation escalated, and three parents were arrested. Police confirmed one of the parents taken into custody had a gun. Officers used a stun gun on two parents, and one had to be taken to the hospital. Chavez says all three parents will be charged.
Paul Novak, A Valley safety consultant who consults with multiple districts, said it was necessary to have parents away from the school while police were investigating. “It really gives the students and staff the best opportunity for safety while the police search for a suspect or deal with a suspect. We don’t want anyone entering that campus except law enforcement at that point,” said Novak.
One parent said she told her kids to follow officers’ instructions in situations like this one. “I teach them just do what the teachers tell you. Do what the cops tell you. And feel safe that you have that cop presence and will make sure that the kids are number one in something like this,” said Karen Sherer.
The Dysart Unified School District had also placed other area schools on lockdown status for a short time, but those have all since been lifted as well. Those schools included Dysart Middle, Dysart High, Surprise Elementary, Riverview, El Mirage, and Sundown Mountain.
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