Mirage Thompson Ranch Elementary closed; the police make everything clear

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Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage was placed on lockdown for about an hour Friday morning after someone saw a man with a gun near the school grounds, the El Mirage Police Department said The Mirage.

The suspect is now in custody, according to Renee Ryon, spokeswoman for the 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 the claims were “unsubstantiated.”

“This morning at Thompson Ranch Elementary School, an individual who appeared to have a gun unsuccessfully attempted to gain access to the campus through an exterior door,” Ryon said. “The campus was immediately locked down and the individual fled without ever entering the building.”

Officers from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the El Mirage and Sorpresa police departments responded to the scene, 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 contents of the package, which was determined not to contain explosives.

“Law enforcement cleared the campus of all threats and the process of reunifying students began,” Ryon said. “This afternoon the suspect was arrested and is now in custody.”

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

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

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

Chavez said the three parents had “confronted” the 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’s important to remind our community that whenever there is a lockdown, no one can enter or leave campus,” Ryon said. “This is done in partnership with law enforcement so they can clear each and every part of the campus to ensure the safety of all students and staff.”

According to police, parents had begun arriving on campus before the children and school employees were evacuated when they received notifications of the children at the school.

“During the lockdown, it is very important that parents understand that no one will be allowed to enter the campus,” Chavez said. “Several parents continued their agitation, they had made several statements that they would come to campus to help protect their children. As a parent, I understand that philosophy, but there are procedures that the police and the school follow.”

Police said the investigation was ongoing.

School continues with regular hours on Monday, August 15.

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

The school was briefly placed on lockdown while officers located and arrested a 14-year-old boy, according to Sgt. Richard Gradillas with the Tucson Police Department.

“We are awaiting details on the case to see what the charges are. No injuries have been reported,” Gradillas said in an email.

TPD was unable to confirm the type of weapon.

Reach journalist Laura Daniella Sepúlveda at lsepulveda@lavozarizona.com or on Twitter @lauradNews.

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