Police investigation into weapons, threats at metro Phoenix schools leads to arrests

·3 min read
Police were investigating reports of threats and of a gun found on campus at two separate metro Phoenix schools this week.
Police were investigating reports of threats and of a gun found on campus at two separate metro Phoenix schools this week.

Police were investigating reports of threats and of a gun found on campus at two separate metro Phoenix schools this week.

A student at Legacy Traditional School in Queen Creek told their parent that they saw another student with a bullet in his possession on Aug. 24, according to Queen Creek police. The parent informed school staff the same day.

On Aug. 25, school staff took the student to a secure location on campus as he was walking into school. Staff searched the student's backpack and found a gun, according to police. Then they contacted authorities.

The gun had a loaded magazine inside, but the chamber was empty, according to police. Officers took the weapon.

The student told a detective he carried the gun for self-protection from abduction because he traveled between school and home by himself. Detectives didn't find evidence of the student having plans, collaboration with others or motives or intentions to harm anyone, Queen Creek police Chief Randy Brice said in a written statement.

Earlier this week: Scottsdale police increase presence at BASIS Scottsdale after threats received

Police announced on Wednesday that after interviewing staff, the student who was involved and their parents, they decided to submit charges to the Pinal County Attorney's Office.

The two charges submitted for the student were on suspicion of being a minor prohibited from carrying or possessing a firearm and possessing a deadly weapon on school grounds. One charge was submitted for the student's parents for suspicion of contributing to delinquency and dependency.

Brice said charging decisions were based on facts and evidence.

"QCPD commends the student who saw something suspicious at school the day before the incident and informed an adult. We encourage all caregivers to teach their children to say something if they see something," Brice said.

"QCPD also urges all caregivers with firearms in their homes to secure them in a way that no child in the house will be able to obtain access to the firearm," Brice added.

The student was not identified because they are a minor.

Horizon High School arrest

In a separate event, an unidentified student was booked into the Maricopa County juvenile correction center on Wednesday morning in connection with an incident at Horizon High School, Sgt. Vincent Cole, a spokesperson with Phoenix police, said in an email on Thursday.

The student, who police said was a young woman, drew graffiti on campus property in which she wrote about a shooting during school hours, according to Sgt. Brian Bower, a spokesperson with Phoenix police. The threat included the date on which the alleged shooting would take place.

Staff learned of the threat and told the school resource officer who started an investigation, Bower said. The school also started an internal investigation.

The student was booked on suspicion of aggravated criminal damages and threats.

The student was not identified because they are a minor.

Cole said police were working with the school to ensure the safety of students, staff and community members.

Shelley Strohfus, the school principal, sent a letter to the families about the incident and arrest. The letter mentioned the graffiti was written in a girls bathroom, and that there was no evidence to suggest the threat would have been carried out.

"I know that doesn’t make this situation any less concerning, and I want to assure you that we have taken this very seriously. Horizon High School remains committed to maintaining a safe learning environment," the letter said.

Families were also notified that there would be an extra police presence on campus through Friday. The letter asked parents to remind children that if they see a school threat, they shouldn't share it on social media. Instead, they should report it to the school administration or law enforcement officers.

"Please remind your child that making this kind of threat, even when intended as a joke, can have severe consequences ... Parents, students, and our community should never hesitate to call or email the school and law enforcement if they hear or see information that might pose a threat to safety," the letter said.

Reach breaking news reporter Angela Cordoba Perez at Angela.CordobaPerez@Gannett.com or on Twitter @AngelaCordobaP.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Police investigate threats at metro Phoenix schools