A teacher at Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain High School was placed on leave while five people, including a 75-year-old grandma and three students, were arrested for simulating a shooting and kidnapping that appeared real to a witness who called police.
The incident marks the second time police responded to what they believed was an actual crime involving Desert Mountain students but turned out to be a video project for a criminology class.
Last January, Scottsdale police were called to a simulated carjacking near the high school, and officers ended the production when they arrived with their guns drawn.
On Sunday, three 15-year-old girls who are sophomores at Desert Mountain, and Scottsdale residents David Seay, 18, and his grandmother, Marilyn Miller, were arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct about 2:30 p.m., after a concerned neighbor called 911.
Miller, who was videotaping, also was arrested on suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of minors, police said.
“We certainly understand and appreciate kids learning about the criminal justice system, which was what they were doing, but I don’t think they planned to get that close to the system.” Scottsdale police spokesman Sgt. Mark Clark said Monday. “When you’re doing something like that on private property where someone can see it, there’s always the possibility of someone thinking that it’s real. Until we know the difference, we have to treat it as if it’s the real thing.”
Clark said police were thankful that Sunday’s scenario didn’t end with a worse outcome.
The man who called 911 told police he looked out the window of his home after he heard screams and saw Seay using what he believed was a real handgun to fire at least three shots at the girls in a residential neighborhood near 94th Place and Davenport Drive in northeast Scottsdale.
Seay, who was assisting with the video, then appeared to force one of the girls into the trunk of a car and drove off in his vehicle, according to police.
Seay later pulled the car over and let the girl out of the trunk before police pulled him over and took him into custody.
Police discovered an Airsoft pistol in the car. The girls were located unharmed.
Last year, on Jan. 16, police were called to the filming of a Desert Mountain criminology class video where a witness believed the simulation was a carjacking in progress.
Eight Scottsdale police surrounded the Desert Schools Credit Union’s parking garage in the 8700 block of Northsight Boulevard where at least two unsupervised seniors were acting for the video. The two were using Airsoft rifles, one of which resembled an M-16 assault rifle, police said last year. No arrests were made in last year’s incident.
That criminology class was taught by David Mietzner.
Citing district policy for not commenting on personnel matters, Marijke Van Fleet, spokeswoman for Scottsdale Unified Schools, wouldn’t confirm whether the teacher placed on paid administrative leave was Mietzner.
Clark said he believed the teacher of this year’s criminology class was the same one involved in last year’s videotaping incident.
Meitzner said last year he has taught the class twice a year for the last four years and the students cover such topics as President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the O.J. Simpson trial, and Arizona criminal codes. At the end of the semester, the students are required to do a video project that involves a crime. Mietzner also said last year that he tells the kids to stay out of public view while simulating the crimes. He said last year that he believed the incident was blown out of proportion.