QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. - As law enforcement continues to investigate the death of Preston Lord in Queen Creek, members of the East Valley community took part in a walk to remember the slain teenager on Nov. 28.
The community walk, which boasted hundreds, began at 6 p.m. at American Leadership Academy in Queen Creek, which is located in the area of Hawes Road and Chandler Heights Road, and ended at the Queen Creek Community/Law Enforcement Chambers, located near the area of Ellsworth Road and Civic Parkway.
This is not the first event organized for the slain teen. In early November, a candlelight vigil was held for Preston.
Hundreds support the Lord family
"It’s been a month since our family got a call that would change our lives forever," said Preston's aunt, Melissa Lord. "It’s also been a month since a group of boys decided to beat my nephew and leave him on the side of the road, and go home like nothing happened."
Melissa didn't go without acknowledging those who tried to save Preston's life.
"A month since he took his last breath on his own. A month since some really brave teenagers performed CPR on him," she said.
Katey McPherson, the event organizer, says she wants to do her part to bring awareness to Preston's case.
"I have four teenagers of my own and this really hits home when somebody is brutally attacked like this and violence is part of our community. I just really want to be a part of the solution," she said.
Death rocks Queen Creek community
Preston's death marks the first homicide investigation in the short history of the Queen Creek Police Department – the department only began its first patrol in January 2022.
According to our initial report, Queek Creek Police received a 911 call regarding an assault in the area of 194th Street and Via Del Rancho on the night of Oct. 28. When officers arrived at the scene, they found a juvenile in the roadway.
"He was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. On Monday, Oct. 30, he passed away in the hospital," read a portion of a statement released by Queen Creek Police.
The victim's aunt, Melissa Lord, said his heart stopped, and that CPR was performed by kids at the party until an ambulance could arrive. Melissa said her nephew suffered a severe brain injury.
On Nov. 1, police cleared up rumors about their responses, saying while there were several calls to that area, there was only one emergency call to the intersection of 194th Street and Via Del Rancho for the assault incident.
They also addressed the large number of tips they are receiving.
"We're working through a large volume of tips … we have somewhere, you know, 76 tips so far. We also have received at least 400 posts or comments on our social media channels. It's imperative those tips go through the police department in the manner that we've already described, not on social media. While good intention, these postings on social media could possibly jeopardize the investigation," police said.
Police also said they have executed several search warrants related to leads they have gotten, but no further information has been provided.
Similar incident happened near Arizona
The investigation into Preston's death is not the only teen death probe recently in this part of the country.
According to the Associated Press, prosecutors in Las Vegas have formally charged two 16 year olds and two 17 year olds with second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit battery, in an incident that is unrelated to the one that killed Preston.
The charges were filed in connection with the death of 17-year-old Jonathan Lewis Jr., who died following a pre-arranged fight after items were allegedly stolen from the victim's friend.
According to Las Vegas police, investigators believe that the victim originally wasn’t supposed to be involved in the fight, but had accompanied his friend to a nearby alleyway where the brawl was scheduled to take place after classes ended for the day.
In the alley, the 10 students "immediately swarm him, pull him to the ground and begin kicking, punching and stomping on him," officials said.
Jonathan, according to officials, died about a week after the fight. Prosecutors said they did not file first-degree murder charges in this case because the evidence shows that the beating was not a premeditated act.
(The Associated Press [AP] contributed to this report)