Gilbert police chief says there can’t be ‘vigilante justice’ in youth violence cases

Jan 25, 2024, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:14 pm

PHOENIX — Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg urged against the spread of misinformation as rumors continue to swirl about youth violence cases in the East Valley.

“It hurts the victims,” Soelberg said Thursday during a press conference. “Regardless of what that jurisdiction is, everyone wants justice. We can’t have vigilante justice. We need people to not spread misinformation.”

Soelberg said on one occasion, a 17-year-old boy playing in front of his house was threatened after a rumor spread about the child being a murderer. Soelberg said the boy, whose address was leaked, wasn’t a suspect in any cases.

Gilbert Police have made 14 arrests related to a string of youth violence cases dating back to 2022. Four of those arrests happened this week.

“I get emotional about it because I see my kids … I wouldn’t want that to happen to [them],” Soelberg said. “Because of the lies and misinformation being shared by people for whatever reason, that information is having a negative impact.”

Soelberg said his department will start updating the media and public weekly on developments in cases and to also dispel information that could not be accurate.

Queen Creek, Mesa and Chandler have also been hampered by youth violence cases, with the death of 16-year-old Preston Lord at a Halloween party in late October the most notable.

“I want to emphasize that we recognize any arrest made in Gilbert-related cases likely won’t lessen the pain and hurt that the family and friends of Preston Lord are experiencing,” Soelberg said.

“It is our hope, however, that these arrests will bring some level of healing for any victims of teen violence in Gilbert.”

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

Phoenix officers shot and injured a man who shot at them first on Feb. 13, 2024. (Phoenix Police Sc...

Phoenix Police release video of suspect who held woman at gunpoint, shot at officers

The Phoenix Police Department released body camera video on Tuesday of a suspect who shot at officers responding to a call of a man holding a woman at gunpoint.

19 minutes ago

Traffic was restricted on 7th Avenue in Phoenix on Feb. 27, 2024, due to a fatal crash. (Pexels Pho...

Traffic restricted after fatal crash on 7th Avenue in Phoenix

Traffic was restricted on 7th Avenue due to a fatal three-vehicle crash in Phoenix on Tuesday, authorities said.

1 hour ago

Promotional image of rapper 21 Savage...

Kevin Stone

Rapper 21 Savage coming to Phoenix this spring on his ‘American Dream Tour’

Grammy Award-winning rap star 21 Savage is bringing his distinctive flow to Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre in Phoenix this spring.

2 hours ago

Mugshot of Raad Almansoori, who was indicted by an Arizona grand jury on eight felony charges...

Kevin Stone

Violent crime suspect wanted for NYC murder indicted on 8 felony charges in Arizona

Violent crime suspect Raad Noah Almansoori was officially charged with eight felony offenses in Maricopa County, officials announced Tuesday.

4 hours ago

Group picture of ABOR members....

SuElen Rivera

Amidst UArizona’s financial challenges, Hobbs chastises university public governing board

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs on Monday chastised the state's public university governing board for attacking UArizona's faculty instead of addressing its failures and a $177 million deficit.

4 hours ago

A gloved hand holds a Planatome surgical blade...

Kevin Stone

Planatome, a Phoenix-based surgical blade maker, plans to double size of workforce

Planatome, a Phoenix-based medical device company that makes advanced surgical blades, announced plans to double its workforce.

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.


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.


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. 

Gilbert police chief says there can’t be ‘vigilante justice’ in youth violence cases