Couple accused of pointing guns at teens at after-prom party in Mesa, police say

Published: Sep. 24, 2022 at 5:22 PM MST|Updated: Sep. 24, 2022 at 5:23 PM MST
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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A former employee of the Scottsdale Fire Department and his wife have been arrested for allegedly pointing guns at teenagers at an after-prom party.

Steven Leitzell, 43, faces charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct with a weapon, and aggravated assault. His wife Emily Leitzell, 42, faces charges of aggravated assault. According to the court paperwork, Steven had been employed by the Scottsdale Fire Department. But the City says he has since resigned.

In the early hours of Sunday, May 2, a caller dialed 911, and told the operator that Steven was threatening them with a gun.

Police responded to the home, which was in a neighborhood near Ray and Ellsworth roads in Mesa. When they got there, officers say they saw a white pickup truck pulling into the garage. Police say Steven came out of his house a short time later. But when officers told Steven was not free to leave since he was the subject of an investigation, he “ignored commands and attempted to walk away and re-enter the residence,” according to court paperwork. That’s when police say they had to go “hands on” and take the suspect to the ground to detain him, the court documents say.

During the course of their investigation, police say they learned that the Leitzells had allowed teenagers to gather at their home following a high school prom. But when Steven couldn’t find his daughter, “he became enraged,” according to the court documents. The documents go on to say that Steven “intentionally pointed a handgun at the chest of a juvenile male while demanding to know the location of his daughter, but the juvenile male did not know.”

Police say Steven learned his daughter might be with a friend that he believed was drinking and driving and lives in the area. According to the court documents, Steven and his wife then ordered everyone out of the house. The teen victim got into a car and told the female teen driver about the gun “being pointed at and touching his chest,” police say. The girl, along with the teen victim and two other people in the car, drove away from the house after she saw Steven “approaching her car while carrying a black handgun at his side,” according to the court documents. She told police Steven chased them in his pickup, but that she was able to lose him, and the teens drove to a friend’s house.

Police say that Steven then blocked a second car with five people with his pickup truck. He then got out, demanding to know where the teen boy was. Steven’s wife also got out of the couple’s truck and pointed a handgun toward the car as well, the court documents say. According to those court documents, Steven admitted they had a post-prom gathering and that teenagers were drinking alcohol there. He also admitted that he and his wife own two handguns, but denied having them in their physical possession that night, police say. He also told detectives he was in a “blackout” and doesn’t remember everything about that night, court documents say.

Police obtained a search warrant and say they located two handguns in the couple’s bedroom. “I understand the fact that he’s upset he can’t find his daughter, but I just don’t understand pulling a gun on kids,” says parent Angela Dunn-Johnson. “That’s not going to help find your daughter. Call the police. I mean, I just don’t get it.”

Dunn-Johnson says her son attended the prom night party. She says once he spotted the gun, he tried to drive away with friends, but the suspects used their truck to block the vehicle and confront the kids. “I guess the guy cut them off and [my son] ended up putting the car in reverse because, I guess, both the male and the female got out with their guns,” says Dunn-Johnson.

Scottsdale Fire Department officials confirm Steven had been a Captain in Fire Department field operations. “Mr. Leitzell’s behavior over the last weekend was contrary to the standards of the Scottsdale Fire Department,” said Fire Chief Tom Shannon. “I have accepted his resignation, and assure the public that we are using this incident to re-emphasize to our staff the importance of guarding the public’s trust in the Scottsdale Fire Department and all public servants.”

Arizona’s Family reached out to the Leitzells who are now out of custody. They said their attorneys advised them not to talk.