Preston Lord’s stepmother delivers impassioned speech to Chandler City Council

Jan 15, 2024, 12:00 PM | Updated: Jan 16, 2024, 10:05 am

PHOENIX — The stepmother of Preston Lord, the 16-year-old Combs High School student who was beaten at a Halloween party and died two days later, delivered an emotional plea for action to the Chandler City Council on Thursday.

While the Lord case has gone unresolved now two-and-a-half months into the investigation, there have been several arrests this month from cases with similar origins where teenagers were mugged – seemingly unprovoked – by a larger group of people.

“We should not be afraid in our own communities,” Melissa Ciconte, Lord’s stepmother, said.

“Preston’s death has impacted not only the Chandler community but the entire East Valley.”

A group of East Valley teens and young adults tabbed the “Gilbert Goons” have been linked to several attacks and instances of bullying.

An attack outside of an In-N-Out Burger near Williams Field Road and Market Street in Gilbert led Rick Kuehner, the father of the victim, to make the decision to send his son overseas to live with his mother in order to avoid harassment from the group.

“These kids, these goons or whoever, they literally will tell you ‘if you say something, we’ll kill you,’” Kuehner told the Gaydos & Chad Show on Friday.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has arrested two men stemming from an attack on Nov. 18 in San Tan Valley. One of those men allegedly admitted to being a member of the Gilbert Goons.

Four others were arrested on Jan. 11 by the Gilbert Police Department for an attack that took place on Aug. 18.

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on Jan. 11 by the Mesa Police Department for an attack that took place on May 29.

The length of time from when the attacks occurred to the time of the arrests has drawn heavy scrutiny.

“Many residents, including myself, were concerned about safety and the presence of teen violence and bullying in our community,” Ciconte told the council.

Gilbert police announced they were investigating eight teen violence cases on Jan. 8 and asked for the public’s help in identifying suspects from five of them. The Gilbert Town Council also voted to create a three-member subcommittee to address the growing issue.

Queen Creek police announced they had submitted charges against seven suspects in the Lord case, but for Ciconte further prevention is on her mind.

“Our goal is to keep our children safe,” she said. “The devastating loss of Preston’s life was due to unnecessary violence. Our child will never be coming home and we need to prevent this from ever happening again.”

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell has also expressed interest in the case saying the charges stemming from Lord’s death will take awhile to review.

She said prosecutors have to sift through an 1,800 page police report and 2,000 pieces of evidence, include more than 600 videos.

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

A man was shot and killed in northwest Phoenix on Feb. 23, 2023. (Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Polic...

Police seeking suspect after man shot dead in northwest Phoenix alley

The Phoenix Police Department is looking for a suspect after a man was shot dead in a northwest Phoenix alley on Thursday evening.

33 minutes ago

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is eyeing a big expansion on-site. (VRX Studios/Justin Kriel)...

Ron Davis/Phoenix Business Journal

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess eyes expansion of guest rooms, restaurants, event spaces and more

The iconic Fairmont Scottsdale Princess filed a request to the city of Scottsdale to update its master plan.

3 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

TSMC reaches construction milestone for Phoenix chip factory

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in Phoenix reached a construction milestone on its chip plant this week.

4 hours ago

Stock image of four men working off the ground on a grid of steel rods. Construction was one of Ari...

Kevin Stone

Arizona had 103 fatal work injuries in 2022, a sharp increase from previous year

There were 103 fatal work injuries in Arizona in 2022, according newly released federal statistics, 54% more than a year earlier.

5 hours ago

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) attends a House Armed Services Committee hearing on July 9, 2020, in Wash...

Ruben Gallego calls Arizona US Senate rival Kari Lake’s switch up on John McCain ‘insulting’

Democratic Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Ruben Gallego isn't buying Kari Lake's change of heart when it comes to John McCain.

5 hours ago


KTAR Video

Video: Arizona and New York attorneys battle over extraditing murder suspect

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said New York City authorities can extradite a murder suspect, but after he’s prosecuted for violent crimes in metro Phoenix. This comes in response to recent remarks by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that garnered national attention. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News Photos: Getty Images

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


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.


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.

Preston Lord’s stepmother delivers impassioned speech to Chandler City Council