EL MIRAGE, AZ — A lockdown has been lifted at Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage after reports of an armed man on campus. The man has since been arrested, but has not yet been identified by police.
On Friday morning, the El Mirage Police Department received reports of a suspicious person on campus, possibly with a gun at the school near Grand Avenue and Thompson Ranch Road.
Police say the man attempted to get on campus but never gained access to the building and left before officers arrived.
Upon investigation, police say they found a suspicious package and students and staff had to be evacuated. El Mirage police say it was examined by explosives technicians and rendered safe.
During the lockdown at the school, several parents became distraught and attempted to go into the school in order to find their children, according to El Mirage PD.
Police say they attempted to communicate with the parents and calm them down but at least three continued to try to force their way into the school.
Police say they then used a Taser on two of those adults. One of them was also armed with a gun.
One adult was hospitalized from injuries from the Taser.
All three adults will face charges for pushing officers and attempting to enter the school while it was on lockdown, announced El Mirage PD.
The parent that was armed will also be charged for having a weapon on campus.
While police say families were distraught, families ABC 15 spoke with say police used excessive force in their response and should’ve handled the scene better.
“Nobody had the ability to one, make an educated decision to keep the children safe. Make an educated decision to inform parents to calm the scene or get children out efficiently. They were more worried about handcuffing parents in a parking lot,” said Drayton Witt, who had nieces and nephews who attend the school.
Witt said they wanted police to talk to families about what was going on. Instead, he felt they got nothing but more trauma as parents were arrested.
“This is the respect we get back from the people we put in control to protect our children. We get assaulted. It’s ridiculous at this point,” he said.
Victor Castaneda ran over from his high school nearby after hearing his sister’s school had some sort of situation. At first, he heard it was a threat but it was not. It was a chaotic scene when he arrived to the school.
“First thing I saw was my mom on the stretcher, not moving. I started panicking like, ‘why is mom on a stretcher?’ I turn around, they have my brother, he’s in cuffs,” Castaneda responded.
A couple of hours later police determined there was no threat and the lockdown was lifted.
After a search of the area, police located the man who tried to get into the school. Police say he is currently being evaluated by mental health professionals and has criminal charges pending.
It is currently unknown what the suspicious item was that caused the evacuation.
Following the incident Dysart Unified School District released a statement reminding everyone that anytime a lockdown is in place, nobody can enter or leave the campus. 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. Additionally, schools are gun-free zones and it is a felony to possess a firearm on any school campus.