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'It was really, really horrible': Parent describes scene at El Mirage school during lockdown

KPNX-TV Phoenix 8/14/2022 Jade Cunningham
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Friday's school lockdown at El Mirage Elementary School led to the arrest of the suspect who started the scare, as well as three people who were concerned about the children inside.

But a new video posted on TikTok showed the moment a scuffle broke out between parents and police while the lockdown was in place.

"Then I was crying because the pain was so bad and my head, I thought it had busted open," said Darlene Gonzales.

RELATED: Suspect who prompted El Mirage school lockdown is in custody. 3 parents arrested for trying to enter school while on lockdown

Gonzales and her older son were trying to get her daughter from Thompson Ranch Elementary Friday afternoon when she said things took an unexpected turn. 

It began with a text from her daughter, who was inside the school when the lockdown went into effect.

"I got a text from my daughter, she said. 'Mom, we're on lockdown right now and it's not a drill. There's somebody on campus trying to get in and he has a gun.' I told her to pay attention, listen to directions that mom is on her way, I'm not far."

Gonzales got to the campus and was told by police where to park and where to wait, in a spot across the street from the school.

"We got there, met up with other parents and by this time parents were starting to show up little by little," she recalled. "So we get there, we're waiting, nobody can cross, no parents were crossing the street, we were waiting and scared."

About 20 to 30 minutes later, Gonzales said she heard an announcement over a loudspeaker from the principal saying the lockdown was over, and there was no threat.

"So at that time parents started saying lets go to the school," she said. "We all together, everybody started crossing to the school, we got there, no officers were telling us to leave."

At one point, she said parents were told to head to the library. It was on the way there when emotions started rising. She saw an officer come after her son, which is when things escalated.

"I put my hand in front and said hey, what are you doing? Why is this happening from that moment the commotion got real," she said. "I was trying to de-escalate what was happening and at the same time I was thinking they're going to hurt my son so I said, please listen."

A video posted on TikTok shows the chaos.

It shows an officer trying to grab her son when people jump in to separate them. You then see an officer grab Gonzales by the arms and lead her off camera. She said that's when she was thrown to the ground. 

At the same time, a handgun that belonged to Gonzales' son drops to the sidewalk which prompts officers to tase him and another man. We then see those two and Gonzales on the ground.

"I got thrown," she said. "I felt like I lifted off the ground and when I fell the first that I hit my head and I bounced up and then the rest of my body, I blacked out for a very short amount of time."

El Mirage Police Chief, Paul Marzocca, wrote on Facebook Saturday addressing concerns over what happened.  Here is the post in full:

"Thank you all for your comments and concern. We can all agree, children are our top priority. We are moms and dads just like you. As law enforcement, we must work every day to earn your trust. What happened in Texas is foreign to what law enforcement in Arizona learn. As your Chief of over four years I know our department is made up of warriors and guardians. We need to have the mindset to battle the evils that want to pray on our society but must also have the compassion to help those in the worst of times. We are made up from the public therefore we aren't perfect. I don't know of any profession that has perfect people. Some call us first responders but we really are the last responders. When all else fails, police must be there no matter the situation. We had very concerned parents respond and as the school was secured and tried to get into the building while it was on lockdown. Some even jumping walls. Fights and arguments event started between parents. My heart sank today when I heard over the radio a call of 905 which means emergency assistance needed. Officers from everywhere responded. I learned a subject had pushed my officer in the chest with force and during the assault a handgun was found on them. Two other people tried to protect this person from being arrested and were also arrested. Just because one may not agree with a law doesn't give them a right to disobey whatever laws they don't agree with. I read comments that we should just let them go. The answer to that is no. One doesn't get to create this chaos at a school in an emergency situation and walk away. If our officers do wrong you can bet I will investigate and deal with the situation. In closing I get it, you are parents and you want what is best for your children and would do anything to protect them. We want the same! Lets work together, the police are the public and the public are the police."

"We followed everything," said Gonzales.

Gonzales was taken on a stretcher to a nearby ambulance and was taken to a hospital. Her son was arrested and booked on several charges including a weapons violation and obstruction. 

12News asked her about her son's handgun, and she wouldn't comment because it's a legal matter. But as she thinks back to what happened Friday, she said she's still trying to understand it herself.

"There was nobody jumping the gates, whatsoever, we did not try charging in," she said. "Nobody deserves this, I feel like I didn't deserve it. I was not there to harm an officer, I was not putting my hands on an officer."

RELATED: How to talk to your kids about schools threats and safety

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