By Corinne Murdock |
At least five individuals have been arrested in connection to various attacks in the Valley allegedly carried out by members of a violent group known as the “Gilbert Goons.”
Those arrested with an alleged connection to the violent group so far: Aris Arredondo, 18; Christopher Fantastic, 18; Jacob Pennington, 20; and two 16-year-old juveniles.
At least one individual, Jacob Pennington, admitted his involvement with the violent group in a statement to police. Pennington also claimed the name “Gilbert Goons” came from a Snapchat group chat.
Jacob’s brother, Noah, was arrested at least four times last year for apparently unrelated incidents of aggravated assault, drug possession/use, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, disorderly assault, and aggravated robbery.
Suspected members of the Gilbert Goons’ social media footprint was large prior to this slew of arrests. Independent internet sleuths and Gilbert locals have come forward to identify others potentially involved with the violent group, citing screenshots and active links to various profiles and postings on Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, and Soundcloud.
Investigations into the violent group picked up after the murder of 16-year-old Preston Lord in Queen Creek last Halloween and subsequent assaults across the Valley. For most locals and involved Arizonans, the Gilbert Goons’ involvement in Lord’s death is all but confirmed. Police have not linked Preston’s murder to the group.
There are reports that up to 40 individuals have involvement with the Gilbert Goons. The Gilbert Police Department (GPD) has asked for the public’s help in identifying other members or affiliates of the group based on photo and video evidence they’ve obtained of attacks dating back to 2022.
In addition to GPD, the following law enforcement agencies are involved in investigating the Gilbert Goons: the Arizona Gang & Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM), Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), and the Chandler, Mesa, and Queen Creek police departments.
The agencies are working to determine whether the Gilbert Goons may be classified as a criminal street gang (A.R.S. § 13-105). Arizona statute qualifies criminal street gang membership as a class 2 felony, while serving as an accomplice is a class 3 felony.
In a statement at Tuesday’s town council meeting, GPD Chief Michael Soelberg relayed that public information would be limited so as not to jeopardize ongoing investigations.
“We are combing through every detail of our past assault cases and arrests involving youth to determine if there are any connections or correlations and what are the relationships, if any, between those involved,” said Soelberg.
The Queen Creek Police Department is handling the investigation for the culprits behind the death of Preston Lord. As of Tuesday, GPD had nine active investigations related to the Gilbert Goons: four reopened and five new investigations.
In a press conference on Wednesday, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) said that the case report on the Gilbert Goons included over 2,000 pieces of evidence making up just shy of 2,000 pages. Over 600 pieces of evidence are videos.
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2024-01-12 07:15:00 , AZ FREE NEWS