ARIZONA NEWS

Vigil for Preston Lord held in Queen Creek after murder suspects arrested and charged

Mar 8, 2024, 3:00 PM | Updated: Mar 12, 2024, 10:11 am

Preston Lord vigil held in Queen Creek March 2024...

Community members shared memorial candles during a vigil for Preston Lord. (Balin Overstolz-McNair photos/KTAR News)

(Balin Overstolz-McNair photos/KTAR News)

PHOENIX — Mourners gathered in Queen Creek on Thursday evening for a vigil to honor Preston Lord, a 16-year-old who was killed by a group of youths during a Halloween party in October 2023.

Four months of public outcry over the rise of youth violence in the East Valley followed his death, putting pressure on leaders to launch a high-profile investigation over four months. A breakthrough this week culminated in the arrests of seven murder suspects.

“We knew when the first arrests happened, we needed to bring the community together,” vigil organizer Kristine Brennan told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Around 100 community members, city leaders and even Lord’s family members gathered together.

Gilbert Mayor Brigette Peterson, who community members have critiqued for not joining walks for Lord, attended the event, along with Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg.

Queen Creek Police Chief Randy Brice also joined the vigil, along with Gilbert Town Councilmember Chuck Bongiovanni, who spearheaded the town’s efforts to look into teen-based violence.

Preston Lord vigil held at same place where group of youths attacked him

The vigil took place near the intersection of 194th Street and Via Del Rancho Road. Brennan and her co-organizer, Angela Rogers, chose the location because it was where a group of boys attacked Lord on Oct. 28.

“We knew we wanted to honor him where his life was taken,” Brennan said.

Many mourners wore orange hoodies to honor Lord’s favorite color and shared memorial candles during a group prayer.

Rogers said the community still feels acute pain over Lord’s loss.

“None of this is ever gonna bring Preston back,” she said. “There’s certainly relief to see the wheels of justice start to turn for Preston.”

Brennan and Rogers are the brains behind the Lily Waterfield Facebook page, which has functioned as a digital town hall since Lord’s death. Community members have used it to share updates on the investigation, organize memorial walks and keep pressure on investigators and prosecutors.

“We have all this energy out there and the most positive thing to do was to bring us together, to honor Preston,” Brennan said.

Rogers said that despite the investigative breakthroughs on Thursday, the case still has a long way to go.

“It is a victory for today, but the war is still out there,” she said. “There’s still a lot of work to do. These kids have to go through court and arraignment and all of that.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Balin Overstolz-McNair contributed to this report.

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Vigil for Preston Lord held in Queen Creek after murder suspects arrested and charged