Suspect who allegedly started El Mirage elementary school lockdown identified; body-cam released

The El Mirage Police Department released a 911 call and body-cam video from their response to Thompson Ranch Elementary School.
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 10:47 PM MST
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EL MIRAGE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- El Mirage police have identified the man who reportedly began a lockdown at an elementary school after staff called 911, reporting he was trying to get in the building while armed. Police say 33-year-old Jermaine Johnathan Travis was arrested last Friday just after 2:30 p.m. in Youngtown. However, police say when Travis was taken into custody, he did not have a gun.

Officers say Travis may have an intellectual disability, and he was taken to a facility to be checked out. Per police, charges for threatening and disorderly conduct are pending. Travis reportedly ran away from the school before police arrived, but he was later found near 113th and Tennessee avenues.

On Tuesday night, El Mirage police released 911 calls and body-cam video during the elementary school lockdown. The body-cam showed chaos among a crowd and officers and ended with three people in custody.

The incident began when a staff member was heard calling 911. “Police, we have a person with a gun at the back of our cafeteria door trying to enter the premises,” the woman says. “We’re in full lockdown.” The woman then goes on to say it was reported to the front office. “It was in our cafeteria, which is a distance,” she adds.

El Mirage police have released 911 calls and body cam video of the elementary school lockdown after reports of an armed man trying to get on campus last week.

The 911 dispatcher then begins asking her questions. “So nobody has seen a male with a gun?” says the dispatcher. The woman replies, “No, it’s a report by our cafeteria manager that a male with a gun was trying to enter the cafeteria doors from our rear entrance.”

The video begins with an officer running into the administration building, yelling, “police, police, police department!” Other officers sprint around the building to where Travis was last seen. Police say other responding officers surrounded the school and began searching for the suspect.

“Due to conflicting reports about the suspect’s last known location, EMPD officers and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputies began to sweep the hallways of the school,” the department said.

However, parents and others began showing up at the school while it was still on lockdown. Police say 22-year-old Vincent Castaneda was one of the first to arrive at the school. In the video, Castaneda goes to the front office and says, “I am here for my little sister, bro. I am responsible for my little sister; this is [expletive], bro.”

“Listen, we have officers inside, and everything is safe,” one officer told him. “But I need to know if my sister is safe, bro,” Castaneda responded. Another officer reassures Castaneda the suspect didn’t get into the school. “Well did you guys get him?” Castaneda asks. “He’s not in the school. No alarms were set, he’s not in the school. But we’re still clearing the school to be safe. I can promise you he did not make it on grounds before we got it locked down,” says an officer.

Police say a short time later, Jonathan Davis was about to scale the school fence near the front office. Officers went over to Davis, and they said he became aggressive and began arguing. “Don’t grab me, don’t put your hands on me,” Davis yells at the officer. “I’m here looking for my sister, you’re putting your hands on me. Why can’t we go through this way? I want to go get my sister!”

One officer tells Davis he’s not helping things. “You’re getting people to start to panic. I need you to leave,” the officer tells Davis. Castaneda then stepped in front of Davis, acting as a human shield. “Leave, leave!” yells the officer. “I’m not going anywhere without my sister,” says Davis.

The body cam shows chaos among a crowd and officers and ended with three people in custody.

Chaos began when a fight broke out between officers and the crowd. Castaneda and his mother, Darlene Gonzales, are grabbed by officers, but Gonzales falls to the ground in the melee.

Davis’ mother was attempting to calm him down when he abruptly ran toward officers. Screaming is heard as officers use a stun gun on Castaneda and Davis. Gonzales is lying on the ground, holding her head. However, when Castaneda falls to the ground, a gun falls out of his waistband. “Gun! Gun!” officers are heard yelling. Officers quickly take Castaneda and Davis into custody.

Castaneda was booked on one charge of possessing a deadly weapon on school grounds, one count of obstructing governmental operations and one count of disorderly conduct. Davis was booked on one count of disorderly conduct. Gonzales’ charges are pending, per police.