Former manager shares concerns about Phoenix group home following deadly shooting

Following the fatal shooting of a group home resident, one former employee is speaking out.
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 4:29 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - After a shooting left an 18-year-old dead at a Phoenix group home last week, a former manager says problems have plagued the facility long before the incident. The shooting happened on Sept. 1 at North Star, a group home near 19th Avenue and Mountain View Road.

Shameka Brinson, the former assistant site director, said she wasn’t surprised by the death of T’revonsay Sales, citing the lack of staffing and security. Sales was shot just a day after his 18th birthday and died three days later.

The home is supposed to help transition teens from foster care into working and providing for themselves. The boys that live at the home are between 16 and 20 years old. “From day one, he was always respectful to me and the staff that was around me. He was always willing to work with us on things we needed to get done,” Brinson said.

“Initially, when I heard someone was shot on campus, I wasn’t surprised, but whenever I heard who it was, it was absolutely heartbreaking,” Brinson said. She reached out to Arizona’s Family, hoping to shine a light on the problems she encountered when she worked there.

Brinson said she’s long had safety concerns. “Whenever you’re at a place that is short-staffed, things like that go overlooked. And that’s how a lot of contraband is allowed to make its way onto campus,” she said. “A lot of that was able to be swept under the rug, however, it was still a gun that made its way onto campus and an incident that traumatized a lot of boys.” However, she said in light of the incident, she believes North Star has a lot of potential for good.

In response to our questions, North Star sent us the following statement:

“In partnership with Arizona’s DCS, the safety of the young adults and teenagers in our care is our top priority. We are deeply saddened by the events that occurred and are fully cooperating with law enforcement on the investigation. Our hearts go out to his family and friends, and also to our talented staff and the other residents who knew him. We have counselors available on site for both our residents and staff during this difficult time.

As this incident involves at-risk children, we are not commenting on the events that took place or the involved individuals. All such questions are being directed to the Phoenix PD for comment. This apartment-style independent living facility is DCS-licensed for 46 beds and has been licensed since 2015. Youth age 16-20 years old reside at the facility. North Star operates five active sites across Arizona.

We are fully compliant with all State laws and Arizona DCS rules as to staffing and security of the facility. All residents receive services as coordinated by Arizona DCS. As with any facility that provides care for older at-risk youth, police involvement can occur. We have partnered with DCS and the Phoenix Police Department in the past to proactively and positively mitigate risks at this facility and will continue to do so. We are extremely grateful to our talented staff as we continue our mission in partnership with Arizona DCS to help at-risk youth transition to adulthood and independent living.”

North Star

North Star also issued a follow-up statement:

“We cannot speak about individual resident cases but allow me to share some general background you will likely find helpful.

We have a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and other contraband. North Star strictly follows State policies and rules in our efforts to enforce those rules upon our residents. We do confiscate any contraband we see in the open or find during a room inspection. If a resident breaks the rules, our recourse is to report the incident to the case manager at AZ DCS (the document is called a UIR). In the UIR we may suggest that the individual needs additional services, or to suggest that the individual be moved to a different facility to receive the care they need.

We cannot discipline, discharge or remove a child from the site without instruction from the case manager. While we can request a resident be moved to a different location, if approved (and it not always is), it generally is a 30-day process unless expedited by the case manager. During that time, they remain at our location.”

North Star

Arizona’s Family also reached out to the Arizona Department of Child Safety. They confirmed North Star has been licensed with the state since 2015. DC has not responded to our request for what, if any, fines and violations North Star has received.