911 caller on night of Lord’s Queen Creek attack frustrated as initial pleas for help went unanswered

Mar 31, 2024, 7:15 AM

Queen Creek resident reflects on chaotic Halloween party that ended in tragedy for 16-year-old Pres...

Queen Creek resident reflects on chaotic Halloween party that ended in tragedy for 16-year-old Preston Lord on KTAR News 92.3 FM. (Queen Creek Police Department and Melissa Ciconte Facebook photos)

(Queen Creek Police Department and Melissa Ciconte Facebook photos)

PHOENIX — A 911 caller who phoned the night 16-year-old Preston Lord was beaten to death after a Halloween party last October said she’s still trying to understand how a teenager was killed.

Jeanna Pignatiello is a resident in the Queen Creek neighborhood where the fatal beating took place.

On Oct. 28, 2023, after finishing watching tv, Pignatiello went to stand in her front yard with her eyes scanning the chaotic scene unfolding before her, she said Friday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Outspoken with Bruce and Gaydos.

Cars flooded the streets, filled with at least 100 kids and teenagers, their chatter mixing with the hum of engines, she said. It’s déjà vu — a year ago, a similar scene unfolded, only then, the police had swiftly intervened.

As Pignatiello observed the scene, police made an appearance in the neighborhood, prompting some youth to scatter and suggesting an imminent resolution.

“But as quickly as one or two groups would get in the car and leave, two, three or four more groups would come in,” she said.

Although police quickly arrived, their decision to circle the block then leave, without taking further action, left Pignatiello and her neighbors in dismay.

“Initially … there was no fighting, we weren’t seeing any violence, any weapons or anything,” she said. “But I also happen to be an educator, and was a principal. When you start to see that many teenagers and they’re trying to drive through, they can’t get through the road, they’re congregating in these big groups, you see that there’s a party that’s about to get out of control — it’s like watching somebody getting ready to light a match.”

Pignatiello stayed in her front yard after the police left. She said she witnessed two vehicle accidents and was tending to teenagers vomiting in her front yard while unaware of what was unfolding a few hundred yards behind her home.

She then placed a 911 call approximately 30 minutes after police initially responded. Here’s a clip:

“We have teenagers jumping our fence. We have watched two accidents. They are hitting each other in front of our yard. They are clearly drunk. They have alcohol. I’m watching the police come through my neighborhood–.”

Compounding the problem, neither she nor her residents were contacted regarding the incident until over a week after Lord died in a hospital.

“To know that that happened, but also like, nobody knocked on our doors. Nobody came. Not a single police officer came to our home until Nov. 8 and this occurred on Oct. 28,” Pignatiello said.

The investigation eventually led to the indictment of seven suspects on murder charges in early March, marking a significant development in the case.

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911 caller on night of Lord’s Queen Creek attack frustrated as initial pleas for help went unanswered