Parents arrested after trying to get to their kids in El Mirage elementary school lockdown

Police
·3 min read

Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage was locked down for about an hour Friday morning after someone reportedly saw a man with a gun near the school facilities, El Mirage Police Department said.

The suspect is now in custody, according to Renee Ryon, a spokesperson for Dysart Unified School District.

Police said they received a call from school staff around 10:30 a.m. about an armed man trying to enter the school.

According to police, initial witness reports said the man entered the school's administration building, but police determined statements were "unsubstantiated."

"This morning at Thompson Ranch Elementary School an individual that appeared to have a handgun unsuccessfully attempted to gain access to the campus via an exterior door," Ryon said. "The campus immediately went into lockdown and the individual fled, never having gained access to the building."

Officers with Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and El Mirage and Surprise Police Departments responded to the location but the suspect had fled the scene, El Mirage police said.

Police said staff found a "suspicious package" at the school. El Mirage Police Chief Paul Marzocca said there was no threat and the school is safe.

Police said technicians were called to assess the content of the package, which was determined to be free of explosives.

"Law enforcement cleared the campus of all threats and the student reunification process began," Ryon said. "This afternoon the suspect was arrested and is now in custody."

All children were safe and were expected to return home while police investigated.

Marzocca advised parents and family members to stay away from the school until the school district advises otherwise.

Three parents, one of whom had a firearm, were arrested at the school campus following the incident, said Lt. Jimmy Chavez with El Mirage police during a news conference on Friday afternoon.

Chavez said the three parents had become "confrontational" toward police and officers used a stun gun on two of the parents.

One of the parents was taken to the hospital and was receiving treatment after the incident, Chavez said.

"...It is important to remind our community that anytime a lockdown is in place, nobody can enter or leave the campus," Ryon said. "This is done in partnership with law enforcement so they can clear each and every part of campus to ensure the safety of all students and staff."

According to police, parents had started arriving on campus before children and school employees were evacuated as they received notifications from kids at the school.

"During lockdown, it is very important that parents understand that nobody will be allowed on campus," Chavez said. "Several parents continued with their agitation, they had made several statements that they were gonna come on campus to help protect their kids. As a parent, I understand that philosophy, however there are procedures law enforcement and school are following."

Police said the investigation was ongoing.

School continues on the regular schedule on Monday, August 15.

In Tucson on Friday, officers responded to Flowing Wells High School for a report of a student in possession of a weapon.

The school was briefly locked down while officers located and detained a 14-year-old boy, according to Sgt. Richard Gradillas with Tucson Police Department.

"We are waiting for details on the case to see what the charges are. No injuries were reported," Gradillas said in an email.

TPD was unable to confirm the type of weapon.

Reach breaking news reporter Laura Daniella Sepulveda at lsepulveda@lavozarizona.com or on Twitter @lauradNews.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: El Mirage Thompson Ranch Elementary locked down; police give all clear