A man who appears to be armed approaches a school campus. Law enforcement arrives. With the school on lockdown, terrified family members seek to get inside to reach the children, reported The New York Times.
Like the early moments of what unfolded in May in Uvalde, Texas, that sequence during a scare in Arizona led to heated exchanges between parents and relatives of schoolchildren and the authorities. But then the confrontation took a different turn. In the end, three people were arrested, two of whom were shocked with stun guns, after they tried to enter the grounds of Thompson Ranch Elementary School in the city of El Mirage, the police said.
The man who prompted the lockdown was taken into custody, and no children or teachers were hurt. But in the wake of Uvalde, the clash involving parents represents a disturbing view of the rage and the distrust that can make a school crisis even more chaotic.
The Arizona authorities said that officers arrived at the scene shortly after someone there reported a man who appeared to have a handgun and was trying to gain access to the school. The man then fled in an unknown direction. Officers sought to make sure there was no longer a threat on the grounds, during which time they discovered a suspicious package that the police said was “ultimately examined by explosives technicians and rendered safe.”
But as concerned parents and relatives began to arrive, one person who was prevented from entering the school had an altercation with officers, the police said. Two other people joined in, prompting officers to fire their stun guns and take all three into custody. One of them was injured and taken to a hospital, the authorities said.
The identity of the suspect in the lockdown was not revealed on Sunday. He was being evaluated by mental health professionals, and criminal charges were pending, the police said. The names of the people who were arrested in the altercation were not available on Sunday.
A video of the confrontation posted on social media shows parents and relatives shouting and pushing themselves against officers. At one point a clattering sound can be heard, and seconds later the video shows a handgun on the ground near one of the parents. The crowd scatters as the police fire stun guns and begin making arrests. A streak of blood can be seen on the pavement near one man as he is handcuffed, moaning in pain.
In an account given to KPNX-TV in Arizona, Darlene Gonzales, whose daughter was inside the school, said that after parents were told the lockdown threat was over she and her son sought to enter the school but were told to go the library. At that point, she said, the situation escalated and she was thrown to the ground. She added that the gun that was seen in the video belonged to her son.
Chief Paul Marzocca of the El Mirage Police Department said that those involved in the altercation had broken the law and bore responsibility for what had happened.
“One doesn’t get to create this chaos at a school in an emergency situation and walk away,” he said.
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