Cops arrested three Arizona parents as they attempted to force themselves into a school that police locked down after an armed man was seen trying to enter the campus, authorities said.
The incident at Thompson Ranch Elementary School occurred about three months after hundreds of law enforcement officers in Uvalde, Texas waited 77 minutes before even trying to open the doors to classrooms where a shooter killed 19 children.
The parents were arrested Friday as they tried to get their children out of the school to protect them, authorities said.
Police in El Mirage, a Phoenix suburb, employed a Taser to thwart two of them as they tried to help a man whose own handgun fell to the ground while he was being taken into custody, authorities said.
No shots were fired at Thompson Ranch, the school wasn’t breached and nobody was hurt, aside from a woman who was transported to a hospital to be treated for Taser injuries inflicted by officers.
By the time the confrontations with the upset parents began, police had already confirmed that there was no longer a threat, removed a suspicious package and were planning to begin reuniting parents with the children, El Mirage police Lt. Jimmy Chavez said.
Still, the school was still on lockdown, meaning no one was allowed on campus, in accordance with police and school district protocols.
That prompted angered parents to demand that they be permitted to go in the school so they could find their children and began confronting police, authorities said.
Chavez sympathized with the parents, but stood by how police handled the situation.
“Several parents continued with their agitation, made several statements that they were going to come on campus to help protect their kids,” he said. “As a parent I understand that philosophy. However, there are procedures that law enforcement and the school were following.”
Chavez said a man began pushing to get past officers and as police were arresting him, a man and a woman who had also been confronting officers came to his aid. Officers used a Taser to subdue them and they too were arrested. As the first man was being taken into custody, a gun fell to the ground.
The armed parent will be slapped with a weapons charge because guns are not allowed on school property, along with a disorderly conduct one. The two parents who were stunned with the Taser will face unspecified charges. The woman was taken by ambulance to a hospital, Chavez said.
El Mirage, in Maricopa County, is home to about 35,800, located roughly 15 miles from downtown Phoenix. Thompson Ranch Elementary is a K-8 school, which began the new school year on Aug. 3, according to its website.
The incident there started about 10:30 a.m. Friday, when school officials called police to report that a man, possibly armed with a gun, was trying to get into a locked school building. He could not get in, and was chased off by staff before police from El Mirage and two other agencies came to the school, Chavez said.
Officers scouring the school to discern if there was a safety threat discovered a suspicious package, prompting them to call a bomb squad and relocate children to different part of the campus, Chavez said.
Parents subsequently began showing up and the confrontations with officers started.
Chavez explained, “The parents need to understand that when the school is on lockdown and law enforcement is on scene, nobody is going to be allowed on campus.”
Chavez said the school lockdown procedures between the school district and law enforcement “worked to a T.”
Police later located the man who had triggered the lockdown. He was being evaluated late Friday by mental health professionals and a police statement said charges were pending.
With Post wires