Suspect pleads not guilty in Gilbert assault, alleged accomplice delays arraignment

Jan 25, 2024, 11:26 AM | Updated: 11:29 am

Mugshots of Christopher Fantastic, left, and Aris Arredondo, suspects in an Aug. 18, 2023, assault ...

Christopher Fantastic, left, and Aris Arredondo are suspects in an Aug. 18, 2023, assault in Gilbert, Arizona. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photos)

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photos)

PHOENIX – One suspect pleaded not guilty Thursday morning in a Gilbert parking lot assault case, while a second suspect’s arraignment was put on hold.

Christopher Fantastic and Aris Arredondo, both 18, are accused of taking part in a violent attack on a minor Aug. 18, 2023, outside the In-N-Out Burger on Market Street, near Williams Field Road and Santan Village Parkway.

They were both arrested on Jan. 10 and indicted as accomplices eight days later on felony charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault.

Arredondo’s arraignment was rescheduled for Feb. 2 after his attorney objected the media presence at Thursday’s Maricopa County Superior Court proceedings.

Fantastic, however, entered a plea of not guilty in the Phoenix courtroom. His next court date was set for March 7.

Christopher Fantastic also implicated in Mesa case

While in custody for the Gilbert case, Fantastic was arrested in connection with a separate violent incident in Mesa.

He allegedly participated in a fight involving 30-40 youths in the area of Val Vista Drive and Pueblo Avenue, between Broadway Road and Southern Avenue, on May 29. People scattered when officers arrived, and nobody was arrested at the time.

However, a man told police on Jan. 4 that his stepson had been assaulted during the brawl. The report was made after multiple violent East Valley attacks attributed to a gang known as the Gilbert Goons came to light.

Investigators used witness accounts and video evidence to connect Fantastic and a 17-year-old to the Mesa attack. The minor was taken into custody on Jan. 11, and Fantastic was booked for assault on Jan. 16.

Is there a connection to Preston Lord’s death?

Media reports and social media accounts have linked the Gilbert Goons to last year’s fatal assault on Queen Creek high school student Preston Lord. Lord, 16, was attacked outside a Halloween party on Oct. 28 and died of his injuries in a hospital two days later.

The Queen Creek Police Department submitted charges against seven unnamed suspects in the Lord case to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on Dec. 28, but no arrests directly connected to the teen’s death have been announced.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell has said it will take time to sort through the submission, which included an 1,800-page report and about 2,000 pieces of evidence, including 600 videos.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Colton Krolak contributed to this report.

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Suspect pleads not guilty in Gilbert assault, alleged accomplice delays arraignment