Queen Creek police: Preston Lord, 'Gilbert Goons' cases 'top priority'

The investigation into the death of 16-year-old Preston Lord is a “top priority” for Queen Creek police, Chief Randy Brice told the public and Town Council on Wednesday.

Mayor Julia Wheatley invited the community to attend its "For Our Town" meeting on Jan. 23 at the Queen Creek Library for a community listening session on teen violence, as scrutiny and frustration are building over a gang of mostly affluent teenagers called the "Gilbert Goons" gang.

Wheatley said the town is expediting its Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee as well.

Brice said it was not appropriate and could “cause problems” to share details of the investigation because the department continues to look into tips to continue “to support the charges” that police filed to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review.

On Dec. 28, police announced they were seeking criminal charges against seven “adults and juveniles” in Lord’s death and have turned over the case to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review.

Brice said, “This route we have taken is the most likely” to get justice.

“Arrests are coming, and we will bring justice for the family,” Brice said.

The Queen Creek Town Council presented a unified front by wearing orange clothing or an orange pin. The color has become synonymous with the #Justice4Preston movement.

“We all have the same goal. We all want justice for Preston,” Wheatley said.

About a dozen residents dressed in orange attended Wednesday’s meeting and about half addressed the council and Brice. Many demanded the town not dismiss their concerns and to get the investigation to the finish line.

'Gilbert Goons': HOA removes ribbons honoring Preston Lord in community embroiled in homicide probe

Queen Creek resident Pat Shafer questioned how the teen violence got to the point it has. She said the death of Lord is a real, ugly and sinister story. She called on the police to do a better job.

Brad Moore, who doesn’t know the Lord family or any of the other community organizers, said he wanted to show up to share his support. He called on Brice to acknowledge and answer the social media rumors.

Lord was fatally beaten at an Oct. 28 Halloween party in Queen Creek and died two days later.

No arrests have been made and no suspects have been named.

Brass knuckles, beatings, fear: Random attacks on teens loom over Preston Lord homicide case

It follows an investigation by The Arizona Republic that found the "Gilbert Goons" had engaged in a string of attacks on other teens in the southeast Valley for more than a year. Many attacks occurred in Gilbert.

Parents, students and community activists say members of the Goons were involved in Lord's fatal beating.

The death of the 16-year-old galvanized the community, with marches in Queen Creek and Gilbert with people wearing orange attire in his memory and packed council meetings with residents expressing concern over teen violence.

The Arizona Republic found the Goons recorded themselves carrying out random assaults in mall parking lots, outside fast-food restaurants, at parks and at house parties.

Arrests in connection with other beatings by the Goons have come recently, including that of a 17-year-old whose house was one searched in the wealthy Gilbert enclave of Whitewing by police in connection with Lord's case, interviews and records show. Eight people have been arrested so far.

Who are the 'Gilbert Goons'? What to know about teen gang accused of vicious attacks

Gilbert council members to meet Thursday

Gilbert’s newly created council subcommittee on teen violence will meet Thursday to discuss conducting a youth violence survey, hosting community listening sessions and receive a presentation from Gilbert police Chief Michael Soelberg on safety statistics in the town.

Gilbert police have nine active investigations related to teen violence, according to the department's website. Four are reopened investigations. The others were previously unreported.

The meeting will take place at 3 p.m. in the council chambers at Gilbert Town Hall.

Suspect in another case: Teen previously arrested in 'Goons' attack in Gilbert arrested in Mesa teen attack

Reporter Maritza Dominguez covers Mesa, Gilbert and Queen Creek and can be reached at maritza.dominguez@arizonarepublic.com or 480-271-0646. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter: @maritzacdom.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Queen Creek plans teen violence forum amid Preston Lord investigation