Queen Creek police submit charges for parents, 4th grader accused of bringing gun to school
QUEEN CREEK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Police want charges filed against a fourth grader and his parents because officers said he brought a loaded gun to a Queen Creek charter school late last month. The Queen Creek Police Department announced on Wednesday it will submit charges in the case to the Pinal County Attorney’s Office against the boy and his parents, later identified as Briana Juarez and Keith Martinez. If prosecutors approve, he would face a felony charge of a minor possessing a firearm and a misdemeanor charge of misconduct involving weapons. Juarez and Martinez would be charged with one count each of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, if prosecutors agree to pursue the case.
Investigators said on Aug. 24, a student saw the fourth grader with a bullet on campus of Legacy Traditional School. The witness told a parent when they got home, and that parent told school staff. The following day, school staff stopped the boy as he walked into school, and he was moved to a “secure location” on campus, police said. His backpack was searched, and a staff member found the gun, which had a loaded magazine, but the chamber was empty, police said. No one was hurt.
A Legacy mom of two says she agrees with the department’s decision to submit charges. “Legacy is very good about practicing [drills] the whole year. So they know why we’re doing it, they know not to bring things like that to school. So the fact that the student still made that choice they should take the brunt of that,” she said.
She added the charges submitted against the parents could be the start of more severe consequences for incidents like these. “Maybe if it keeps continuing, laws will change and it will be a higher punishment,” she said.
Paul Novak, a school safety expert, says the incident at Legacy was one of four where students brought guns to school in a one-week span last month. Novak says schools can use what happened at Legacy as a teaching moment moving forward. “They need to be forthright with their children in the school districts, and tell them very clearly what happened here. And what the consequences are for this child and for their parents.”
During the investigation, Legacy’s principal, Megan Alvarado, was put on leave. “We are investigating the circumstances around Thursday’s discovery of an armed student on campus, and this inquiry includes making certain the administration at all times followed Legacy security protocols. Principal Alvarado has been placed on administrative leave pending completion of this review,” officials said in a statement.
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