Phoenix/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 17, 2024
Loaded Gun Seized from Student at Mesa High School as New Metal Detectors Prove EffectiveSource: Google Street View

Chaos was narrowly averted at Mesa High School on Wednesday when a newly installed weapons detection system apprehended a student armed with a loaded gun. According to ABC15, the 18-year-old, later identified as Joseph Coops, was found to be carrying a firearm complete with two additional magazines as he tried to enter the campus. Mesa Public Schools hailed the weapon detectors as a crucial addition to school security measures, with a statement indicating their role as “another layer to MPS security measures.”

Running with the detectors for the first time, Mesa High School's timing couldn't have been more prescient, as the student arrested had been bringing the gun to school nearly every day, stated court records. Having purchased the gun over social media seven months prior, Coops allegedly confessed that he knew it was a matter of time before the gun was discovered, a detail revealed in court papers quoted by 12 News. The weapon's serial number had been removed, only deepening the gravity of the offense with Coops facing multiple charges including possession of a deadly weapon that has been defaced.

Despite the arrest, the student had not made threats against others at the school, a point both the police and district officials were keen to emphasize. In a message to families, the district acknowledged this as the first weapon detection since the system's implementation. Mesa Public Schools are expected to extend the safety measure to all high schools by the next week's graduation ceremonies, and eventually to junior highs by the next school year.

The instatement of metal detectors came at a time of heightened security concerns, with police having increased their presence around the school in response to a social media threat earlier that week. According to records obtained by 12 News, the threat, which originally targeted the school prom, initiated a larger police presence at the event and subsequent activities. Despite the troubling context, the recent incident underlines the district's determined stance that “weapons have no place in our schools,” an ethos reaffirmed in their disciplinary proceedings against Coops.