A look at teen violence, ‘Gilbert Goons’ investigations in the East Valley

Ashley Holden
12 Min Read

Four East Valley cities and one county are now investigating group teen violence cases.

Between multiple agencies, dozens of arrests have been made since the beginning of the year.

The Gilbert Police Department along with other local, county, and state agencies are investigating a group known as the “Gilbert Goons.” Those agencies are working to determine if the group can be classified as a criminal street gang in Arizona.

On Wednesday, March 6, officials announced that four individuals were indicted in the beating death of Preston Lord. Three additional people have also been arrested.

With so many developments in such a short time, ABC15 created a timeline to track all of the developments.


Preston Lord was beaten at a Halloween party and later died. In the days following, ABC15 begins to learn about the community’s concern regarding a group known as the “Gilbert Goons.”


ABC15 reached out to Gilbert PD about the alleged group. “After checking it does not appear we have any documentation in reference to the name. Thus, there are no documented arrests or complaints of anyone claiming to be involved with the “Gilbert Goons.”


The FBI announces its involvement in the Preston Lord investigation. The agency set up a tip line and announced a $10,000 reward. The Queen Creek Police Department said it received hundreds of tips. The department also announced it has identified multiple persons of interest, but still no arrests.


Queen Creek police officials responded to ABC15’s questions, including if they were aware of a group known as the “Gilbert Goons.” A department spokesperson replied, “Yes, we are aware of them.”


A “Light the Night” event for Preston Lord was held, marking one month since the assault that ultimately took the 16-year-old’s life.


East Valley parents began to gather at council meetings wearing orange in support of Lord’s family. Community members also began speaking out about teen violence.


Gilbert police acknowledged the department learned about the term “Gilbert Goons” from social media. Chief Michael Soelberg puts out a statement that says, in part, “Social media and media reports allege that there have been police investigations involving a group of Gilbert individuals that have been targeting teens in the East Valley identified as the “Gilbert Goons”, a term of which Gilbert PD was made aware of via recent social media references. What we know at this time is that Gilbert PD does not have police reports from victims or suspects associating or connecting the named group to any alleged reported criminal activity in our community.”


ABC15 shared Rick Kuehner and his son’s story, pushing for justice. Kuehner’s son was assaulted at an In-N-Out restaurant on August 18, 2023. ABC15 shared court documents outlining other attacks, including one so violent brass knuckles were used.


Two months after Preston Lord was attacked, Queen Creek police submitted charging recommendations against seven people to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Neither the names nor the recommended charges are released. MCAO said the case will take a considerable amount of time to review.


Gilbert police said they are reviewing prior cases over the last two years. “Gilbert Police Department is thoroughly reviewing its prior cases, incidents, investigations, and calls for service involving teens from the last two years to determine if there are any connections between the individuals and these incidents.”


Gilbert police announced the department is investigating eight teen violence cases; four reopened cases and four that were previously unreported. The department also announced they have victims referencing the “Gilbert Goons” in police interviews. Gilbert police said an investigation involving local, county, and state agencies was underway to determine if the group can be classified as a criminal street gang. “Initially, Gilbert PD did not have any reports where the victims or the suspects referred to ‘Gilbert Goons’; however, in recent information received from victims there are references to their assailants as being associated with ‘Gilbert Goons.’ It is important to note that this investigation will determine if the ”Gilbert Goons’ can be classified, under Arizona law, as a criminal street gang.”


  • Over two days, Gilbert police arrested four teenagers for their alleged association with an August 18, 2023, assault at In-N-Out. Christopher Fantastic, 18; Aris Arredondo, 18; and two 16-year-olds were arrested. 
  • In a separate case involving teen violence, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jacob Pennington, 20, for his alleged involvement in a November 18, 2023, assault. Court documents noted Pennington told PCSO deputies he was a part of the “Gilbert Goons.” In an interview with ABC15, Pennington’s mom said her son was not involved with the group. 
  • Gilbert Town Council approved the creation of a Teen Violence Subcommittee. 


A 17-year-old was arrested by the Mesa Police Department for his alleged involvement in a May 29, 2023, attack.


The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of 18-year-old Garrett Bagshaw, marking the second arrest by the agency for the November 18, 2023, attack.


The Mesa Police Department arrested 18-year-old Christopher Fantastic for his alleged involvement in a May 29, 2023, attack. This marks the second arrest in this case.


Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg held his first news conference on teen violence.


Three teens are arrested for multiple teen violence incidents in Gilbert. Kyler Renner, 18; Gage Garrison, 19; and 17-year-old Jack Woods (who is being charged as an adult), were arrested for their alleged involvement in a Gilbert parking garage attack on December 3, 2022. Renner was also arrested for reported drug possession and paraphernalia, as well as an assault that took place near Higley and Riggs roads on November 22, 2022.


Gilbert police arrested a 17-year-old in connection with the November 22, 2022, assault near Higley and Riggs roads. This marks the second arrest in this case.


Gilbert police arrested 19-year-old Deleon Haynes and a 17-year-old for their alleged involvement in the August 18, 2023, In-N-Out parking lot assault of Kuehner’s son, bringing the total number of teens arrested in this case to six.


  • Gilbert police arrested 18-year-old William Owen Hines and 17-year-old Tyler Freeman (being charged as an adult) for their alleged involvement in the attack on Higley and Riggs roads on November 22, 2022. Four teens have officially been arrested in this case. 
  • Gilbert police also announced the arrests of Jacob Pennington, 20; William Owen Hines, 18; and a 17-year-old for their alleged involvement in a December 2, 2022, assault in an In-N-Out parking lot. 


  • ABC15 learned that Gilbert Police submitted more drug charges to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for 18-year-old Kyler Renner. Police said this stemmed from an investigation that began in March 2023. 
  • Chandler Police announced it is investigating teen violence cases in the city, making it the fourth city in the East Valley to open investigations involving teen violence. Other cities and jurisdictions include Queen Creek, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, and Pinal County.
  • The victim in a Dec. 2022 assault at the Gilbert In-N-Out, Connor Jarnagan, testified at the capitol, telling lawmakers he hoped a bill aimed at banning brass knuckles would pass this session. The bill passed out of committee on Feb. 2. 


Gilbert police arrested Gage Garrison, 19; and Cody Kistoryz, 18, for their alleged involvement in an attack at Higley and Elliot that occurred on December 17, 2023. Police submitted charges for 18-year-old Nolan Russell in the case, noting Russell lives out of state. A warrant was issued for Russell’s arrest and extradition.


  • Chandler City Council approved a teen violence resolution, vowing their commitment to preventing and investigating teen violence.
  • Rick Kuehner filed a lawsuit naming 50 people. The complaint names teens, their parents, and some adults. It alleges the Gilbert Goons is a gang, and names 17 alleged members. 


  • A Notice of Claim was filed naming multiple people/organizations/agencies including the Chandler Unified School Dist., Gilbert Police, and Gilbert’s School Resource Officer who staffs Perry High School. The claim was filed on behalf of Rick Kuehner and his son. The pair are asking for $6 million from CUSD.
  • A second complaint was filed on behalf of a Gilbert parent, JoBeth P., who says her son was attacked in Mesa in May 2023. The complaint names 9 people, again naming some as a part of the “Gilbert Goons”. Others in the lawsuit are parents. The complaint notes the teen victim received threats for more than six months, and when his dad stepped in threats were sent that mentioned Preston Lord’s death.


Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell held a news conference with Queen Creek police officials where they announced several indictments in connection to the death of 16-year-old Preston Lord.


Three additional suspects were arrested in connection to Preston Lord’s death, bringing the total number of suspects indicted and arrested to seven.

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Ashley Holden , www.abc15.com
2024-02-14 02:53:47 , Chandler News

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