PHOENIX – Three Arizona parents were arrested Friday after scuffling with law enforcement as they tried to get into an elementary school to pick up and “protect” their children during a school lockdown, police said.
Thompson Ranch Elementary School in the Phoenix suburb of El Mirage was locked down for about an hour Friday morning after someone reportedly saw a man with a gun near the school, the El Mirage Police Department said.
Authorities said the school was later cleared and the suspect, who was arrested by police, never gained access to the campus. But during the lockdown and before students and teachers could be evacuated, parents started showing up. Police said the group of parents got notifications from their children inside the school.
A family walks away from Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage after a lockdown on Aug. 12, 2022.
Three parents, one of whom had a firearm, were arrested on campus, El Mirage police Lt. Jimmy Chavez said during a news conference Friday afternoon. Chavez said the three parents became “confrontational” toward police, and officers used a stun gun on two of the individuals.
One of the parents was taken to a hospital, Chavez said. He said several parents outside the school expressed frustration during the incident and wanted to get into the building to protect their children.
“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.”
The scare in El Mirage comes nearly three months after parents in Uvalde, Texas, argued with authorities outside Robb Elementary School as a gunman was inside the school. The police response to that shooting, which left 19 students and two teachers dead, has been heavily criticized over failures by authorities to confront the gunman for more than an hour.
Dysart Unified School District issued a statement after the incident reminding parents that no one can enter or leave a school during a lockdown.
“It is important to remind our community that anytime a lockdown is in place, nobody can enter or leave the campus,” said Renee Ryon, a spokesperson for Dysart Unified School District. “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, initial witness reports said the man entered the school’s administration building around 10:30 a.m., but police determined those 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 intruder had fled, El Mirage police said.
Police said staff also found a “suspicious package” at the school. El Mirage police Chief Paul Marzocca said there was no threat, and technicians cleared the package, which was determined to be free of explosives.
All children were safe and were sent home as police investigated. School will continue as normal on Monday.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK:
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