ARIZONA NEWS

Gilbert gang terrorizing kids, parents in East Valley, mental health advocate says

Jan 4, 2024, 4:25 AM | Updated: 2:22 pm

Split image of a Queen Creek Police vehicle and Preston. Lord...

Preston Lord was fatally assaulted following a Halloween party in Queen Creek, Arizona. (Facebook Photo/Queen Creek Police Department and FBI Bulletin)

(Facebook Photo/Queen Creek Police Department and FBI Bulletin)

PHOENIX — It’s dangerous to be a teen in the East Valley, according to a youth mental health advocate who knows several kids who were brutalized by a Gilbert gang.

Katey McPherson, who has spent over 20 years working for schools in Scottsdale and Gilbert, said the attacks are random and brutal. She said three of her friends’ children were victimized by the Gilbert Goons, a gang of violent teenagers, since December 2022.

“They called sobbing, traumatized … several of them had to go to the ER for stitches to their skull,” McPherson told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad Show on Wednesday.

One of the victims was attacked while getting a cheeseburger.

“The patterns for all of them are the same: Just hanging out, going to get a cheeseburger, come out and basically get blitzed, whether it’s five on one or 10 on one,” McPherson said.

After the assaults, the victims are told they’ll be attacked again if they speak to the authorities, she said.

There’s also an element of public humiliation to the attacks, which are recorded and posted on social media sites like Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram, she added.

“As a teenage boy, you don’t want attention on yourself. You just want this to go away,” McPherson said. “When you’ve already been humiliated and physically hurt, you don’t want to be hurt worse or what happened to Preston.”

Preston Lord, 16, died two days after being assaulted at an Oct. 28 Halloween party in Queen Creek. Media reports have linked the Gilbert Goons to the attack.

Both the Gilbert and Queen Creek police departments have said they’re investigating the attack on Lord and other assaults in the region.

Last month, the Queen Creek Police Department submitted charges against seven suspects in Lord’s homicide investigation. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is reviewing the charges.

Controversy over how police are investigating the “Gilbert Goons”

After Lord’s murder, public scrutiny against the Gilbert Police Department intensified.

Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg said Wednesday his department is collecting evidence related to these attacks. He also said officers are patrolling in areas frequented by teens.

McPherson said the fact that so few victims are willing to come forward makes it harder for police to investigate these crimes.

“Some of these victims’ parents are also terrified to come forward because of the activity that these children have been doing. A lot of us are not allowing our children to go anywhere right now,” she said.

Malls, house parties and bonfires are all off-limits.

“With the unpredictability of the group, it’s hard to know who they’re after and if your child is safe,” she said.

Mother clears up misconceptions about the teen attackers

McPherson has researched the attackers, tracking social media videos and seeing who is posting the assault videos.

“For me and some fellow mom friends of mine, it’s not that hard,” she said. “Their platforms are very public and they’re very brazen about bragging about what they’re doing.”

The perception that the Gilbert Goons are all wealthy white kids being protected by their parents isn’t accurate, McPherson said.

“They’re not all rich and they’re not all white,” she said. “It’s a sexy headline, but it’s not true. These teens range from students who are middle class all the way to elite wealth.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Preston Mark was assaulted in Park in August 2020. (FBI Photo)...

KTAR.com

Reward of up to $10,000 offered for information in death of 61-year-old Arizona man

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information about the death of a 61-year-old Arizona man in 2020.

1 hour ago

A newly released report on last year’s fatal crash involving a pickup truck and a group of bicycl...

Associated Press

Report suggests steering of vehicle that caused fatal Goodyear bicycle crash worked fine

A new report on last year’s fatal Goodyear bicycle crash has cast doubts about the driver’s claim the vehicle’s steering locked up.

2 hours ago

A 43-year-old man died after driving his vehicle into the bottom of a dry canal in Phoenix on Feb. ...

KTAR.com

43-year-old man dead after driving vehicle into canal in Phoenix

A 43-year-old man died after driving his vehicle into the bottom of a dry canal in Phoenix on Tuesday evening, authorities said.

3 hours ago

A dust storm rolled through metro Phoenix on Feb. 28, 2024. (ADOT Photo)...

KTAR.com

Dust storm rolls through metro Phoenix during evening rush hour

Metro Phoenix drivers headed home during evening rush hour had to fight through a dust storm on Wednesday.

3 hours ago

A student was found with a gun at Youngker High School in Buckeye on Feb. 28, 2024. (Google Maps Sc...

KTAR.com

Student found with gun at West Valley high school

A student was found with a gun at a West Valley high school on Wednesday, authorities said.

5 hours ago

The front end blade of an Arizona Department of Transportation snowplow...

Kevin Stone

Here’s the scoop: ADOT reveals results of name-a-snowplow contest

After tallying more than 9,500 votes, the Arizona Department of Transportation revealed three winners for its second name-a-snowplow contest.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Gilbert gang terrorizing kids, parents in East Valley, mental health advocate says