East Valley Rounds Up Goons

‘Gilbert Goons’ Begin Facing Charges
Tiffany Hagan

After a string of violent crimes spanning as far back as January 2021, the Gilbert Police Department, Mesa Police Department, and Pinal County Sheriff’s Department coordinated and made the first twelve arrests connected to a group known as the “Gilbert Goons” as of January 25.
Who are the “Gilbert Goons”?
Local residents described the “Gilbert Goons” as “a gang of 20 or more with most of its members being white, upper-middle class from multiple southeast valley high schools,” to the Arizona Republic.
The “Gilbert Goons” have been on a crime spree, with the earliest event being back in 2021, but the string of teen attacks started back in December 2022.
The “Goons” have carried out random assaults on teenagers for over a year in a variety of areas such as house parties, outside fast-food restaurants, parking lots, and more.
The Gilbert Goons would record these attacks, including those that left teens hospitalized and traumatized, which they would then share on social media sites: Tik Tok, Instagram, and in private chats.
These attacks are becoming violent with the “Goons” kicking, hitting, and going as far as to beat one of their victims with brass knuckles. They also recorded themselves flashing handguns, handling other high-powered weapons, showing off with cash and drugs, and racing down highways.
Charges and Arrests:
Gilbert Police Department arrested 18-year olds Christopher Fantastic and Aris Arredondo, as well as 2 yet-to-be named 16-year olds with charges of robbery and assault.
The assault in this case was of a boy outside an In-N-Out August 18.
The Gilbert PD also arrested 19-year old Gage Garrison, 18-year old Kyler Renner, and an unnamed 17-year old were arrested under charges of aggravated assault of an adult inside a Gilbert downtown parking garage December 3, 2022.
Renner was also arrested in connection to another assault of a teen November 22, 2022 with charges of drug possession and paraphernalia.
Mesa Police arrested Fantastic again in connection to an attack in Mesa on May 29 with charges of aggravated assault; as well as charging an unnamed 17-year old boy with ties to the beating of Preston Lord’s death October 30 and his relation to other assaults.
The Pinal County Sheriff Office arrested 20-year old Jacob Pennington and 18-year old Garret Bagshaw with charges of assault and disorderly conduct in connection with a teen beating on November 18.
Deputies later claimed that Pennington did admit to being associated with the “Gilbert Goon” group and that the name “originated from a SnapChat group chat”.
“This is an ongoing investigation…There could potentially be a few more arrests stemming from this crime,” Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said in a video statement after the arrest of Pennington.
There are many crimes carried out by the “Gilbert Goons” including the alleged beating of Lord and assaults on multiple teens.
Both Fantastic’s and Pennington’s families have come out and said their sons aren’t a member of the “Gilbert Goons” and are denying their involvement in these teen violence cases in separate interviews with AZ Family and the Arizona Republic.
Gilbert was named the “Second Safest Big City in America for 2022” according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program as of October 2023, the same month where Preston Lord was murdered after a string of teen violence cases.
These attacks have been going on for over a year, and suddenly the Gilbert PD has recently started addressing them.
“I know our department is thankful that the community has come together to support seeking justice for Preston Lord and any other victims,” Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg said in his January 9 statement, “It can be frustrating waiting for additional information and charging decisions. It may seem at times as if action isn’t being taken but I can assure you that everyone here is working hard to ensure that anyone who has committed a crime in Gilbert is held accountable.”
Soelberg’s statement left many members of the community confused on why any of the incidents prior to Lord and the “Goons” weren’t the police’s top priority to investigate.
16-year old Lord was attacked and beaten to death outside a house Halloween party in Queen Creek October 28, 2023; he died two days later.
Lord’s death “sparked” many parents and community members’ frustration with how local police deal with teen violence.
The Gilbert Community has held many walks to raise awareness and seek justice for the death of Lord and others who lost their lives to teen violence.
Lord’s step-mother spoke at a Chandler City Council meeting, “Preston is more than a headline. He was a son, a brother and a friend,” she said. “The devastating loss of Preston’s life was due to unnecessary violence. Our child will never be coming home and we need to prevent this from happening again.”
Volunteers swept through Gilbert neighborhoods with more than 2,400 feet of orange ribbon over the weekend of January 13-14, tying bows in memory of 16-year-old Preston Lord.
The ribbon was later removed by Gilbert’s Homeowner Association January 18 ordered by a few wealthy homeowners who are involved with this case.
These wealthy homeowners are involved in the case of Lord’s murder because they are related to or are the parents of the individuals who have been convicted for their involvement in teen violence cases.
One of these parents was stripped of her franchise rights for an OHM Fitness in Gilbert, over her family’s involvement in Lord’s death.
The CEO of OHM Fitness Doug Paynes said in an email to all gym members, “Based on the Renner family’s alleged involvement in the incident leading to the tragic death of Preston Lord in October 2023, we have severed ties with the Renner family and have assumed operations of her OHM Fitness studio…We stand with the Gilbert community and pray for peace and swift justice for Preston Lord and the Lord family.”
Movement Going Forward:
The cities of Chandler, Queen Creek, and Gilbert have each had town meetings to discuss the increase in teen violence.
Gilbert has even created their own subcommittee for teen violence and held their first meeting January 18 to help ease community concerns and frustrations.
At the meeting Soelberg addressed the public, “This [Gilbert] is one of the safest large cities in the country, and our neighboring cities also boast a high level of community safety. That’s what makes these recent acts of teen violence in the East Valley even more shocking…As the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office continues its review of the [Lord] investigation, I want to assure you that any act of violence is not and will not be tolerated,” he said.
Gilbert PD announces several new or reopened cases they’re investigating and they’re asking for the public’s help to identify more suspects in photo and video evidence.
As of now, Gilbert PD has 9 active investigations related to teen violence with 4 cases being reopened and 5 being previously unreported to the department.
Soelberg said further in his January 9 statement, “We have been working with, and will continue to work with, the state Gang Task Force, the Mesa, Queen Creek and Chandler Police Departments and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office to thoroughly investigate any individuals self-proclaiming or affiliated by others as being associated with the term ‘Gilbert Goons.’”
As of now, there have been no arrests made in regards to the case of Lord’s murder,but the “Gilbert Goons” are believed to be involved.
This, plus the Gilbert PD’s repeated ‘We are working on it’ statements to ease public frustration has only caused public frustration to grow; the public believe these teen violence cases aren’t being taken seriously enough.
Multiple conspiracies have resulted in the Gilbert PD’s ‘silence’ and ‘slowness’ in this whole situation, increasing fear and lack of trust across the Valley.
Community members tell the Arizona Republic that they will continue having “…marches in Queen Creek and Gilbert with people wearing orange attire in his [Lord’s] memory and packed council meetings with residents expressing concern over teen violence,” and are hoping to change in, “What they see as a slow and less-than-candid response to it [Lord’s case] by Gilbert police and city leaders”.
Even though the “Gilbert Goons” cases still have ongoing investigations, communities hope these cases will help police departments learn how to address and communicate to the public in future similar situations related to teen violence.

**While police reports may have named several alleged perpetrators, The Viking Views maintains a policy to not name name minors accused or who are victims of crimes**

For more updated information, check out “Goons Gone to the Slammer.”

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