2 teens, including victim, may face charges in Cesar Chavez High School shooting, according to police

A teenage boy was shot on the Cesar Chavez High School campus in Phoenix on Monday, Nov. 29 and police say he's going to be OK.

According to Phoenix Police Sgt. Ann Justus, a teen suffered a non-life-threatening injury as a result of a shooting.

"Just after school was released, so a little bit after 2:50 p.m., there was an altercation in one of the bathrooms here on campus when the student was shot," said Phoenix Police Sergeant Ann Justus.

According to police, the victim, a 16-year-old junior at the school, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital.

Police official describes initial scene

"I can tell you it's chaotic when our officers get there," said Phoenix Police Sergeant Ann Justus.

Sgt. Justus said the scene was very busy, with lots of students and staff around at the time.

"There’s people, you know, in every direction. It's mass chaos, and our officers do the best they can to calm everybody down. This school is also equipped with security. They did a great job working with officers as soon as we got here," said Sgt. Justus.

All other students and staff members who were on campus at the time were safe, and moved to a park east of the campus, where they were reunited with family members.

There are no metal detectors on campus, according to Sgt. Justus on Nov. 30.

Arrest made

During a news conference on Nov. 30, Sgt. Justus announced that a 15-year-old student at Cesar Chavez High School was arrested earlier in the day in connection with the case.

"Through interviews and other means, our detectives learn that that 16-year-old brought a gun to school, with the purpose of selling it to the 15-year-old. That transaction took place in the bathroom of the high school. A sum of money was exchanged. The gun was given to the 15-year-old, and the 16-year-old soon realized that the money he received from that gun was not real money," said Sgt. Justus. "As soon as the 16-year-old realized that the money he received is not real, he confronted the 15-year-old. That's when the altercation occurred, and the 16-year-old was shot."

The 15-year-old, according to police, was arrested and accused of a variety of offenses, including aggravated assault, endangerment, and other weapons-related offenses. Sgt. Justus said charges are pending for the 16-year-old, as soon as he recovers.

"We don’t know whether or not the person intended on shooting him or it was a result of that altercation," said Sgt. Justus. 

As for the gun at the center of the transaction, Sgt. Justus called it a ‘ghost gun.'

"A poly-type gun, often referred to as a ghost gun. It is a gun that people can build. They can order the parts off the internet. There's different ways they can obtain those," said Sgt. Justus.

The gun used has not been found yet, and police officials say the two teens' identity will not be released, due to their age.

"When we have our kids bring guns to somewhere when they’re supposed to be in a safe learning environment, that’s troublesome to everybody," said Sgt. Justus.

Classes resume, but new security measures remain

While classes at Cesar Chavez High School have resumed on Nov. 30, Phoenix Union High School District officials have announced a number of measures that will take effect until further notice, including:

  • Limited entry and exit points on campus
  • Banning of backpacks
  • Extra safety personnel, including law enforcement
  • Banning of food deliveries
  • Extra safety measures near restrooms during passing periods, arrival, dismissal, lunchtime, and after-school activities
  • Additional counselor and support staff

School district was phasing out School Resource Officers

Cesar Chavez High School is part of the Phoenix Union High School District. In 2020, the district decided to not re-sign an agreement with Phoenix for School Resource Officers.

"As the district responsibly yet courageously addresses two pandemics, racism and COVID-19, [Superintendent] Dr. [Chad] Gestson said that this is the right time for PXU to revisit and even rethink school safety," read a portion of a statement released at the time. "Phoenix Union will use off-duty officers, as and when needed, to assist with required law enforcement notifications, campus and community safety needs, and other mandatory reporting issues. Officers will be assigned to the district, not to schools."

At the time, school district officials said the decision will result in significant budget savings.

"We will use most of that money to train our security personnel to make sure that when we return for the '21 and '22 school year, that our campus safety and security team is as well trained and ready to keep campus is as safe as possible in the future," said Dr. Gestson, in a video released at the time.

Phoenix Union High School District's decision to not renew the agreement with Phoenix for School Resource Officers came at a time when a number of public school districts decided to either remove or suspend partnerships between schools and police departments. Phoenix Union High School District's decision, however, was criticized at the time by former school board member Randy Schiller.

"In my opinion, the School Resource Officer’s first off these officers that want to be on schools. These are not officers that are being forced by their precinct or their cities to be put into the schools. They apply to get in because they want to work with kids," said Schiller.

During a virtual news conference on Nov. 30, Dr. Geston did not appear to be reconsidering the district's decision to not renew a deal with Phoenix Police for SROs.

"Cesar Chavez High School has 128 classrooms, many hallways, eight sets of bathrooms, nine buildings, three parking lots, 50 acres. To think a SRO would’ve been at that place at that time to prevent this I think is not accurate," said Dr. Geston.

Parents speak out following special meeting

On the night of Nov. 20, the school held a meeting with parents. The meeting was closed to members of the media.

"So, me coming to this meeting, getting the right answers and seeing where our district goes with this, then I'll feel safe brining them back all together," said Wanda Roberson.

Roberson was one of dozens of concerned parents who came to the meeting. Roberson herself has four children at Cesar Chavez high School.

"I want her campus safe, but I don’t want our kids feeling like they’re in prison coming to the school," said Roberson.

Parents have told FOX 10 that a follow-up meeting has been scheduled in two week's time.

Anyone with information about the shooting should contact Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS. Spanish speakers can call Testigo Silencioso at 480-TESTIGO.

Si tiene alguna información sobre este caso, llame a la línea de Testigo Silencioso (480-TESTIGO, 480-837-8446).

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