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Police say more staffers, students seek charges against senator

Sen. Don Shooter, R-Yuma (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Sen. Don Shooter, R-Yuma (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Two additional staffers and three students at a Yuma charter school told investigators they want to pursue charges against Sen. Don Shooter after he confronted a teacher in her classroom, prompting police to recommend prosecutors seek nine misdemeanor charges against the lawmaker.

The added victims make for a total of seven individuals pursuing charges against the Yuma Republican, who barged into a classroom at the EOC Charter High School on the morning of March 22, according to police.

Police recommended prosecutors charge Shooter with misdemeanor assault, second-degree criminal trespassing, disturbance of an educational institution and six counts of disorderly conduct.   The Yuma city prosecutor will ultimately decide if Shooter should be charged.

Guidance counselor Theresa Dover and registrar Amber Cygan are listed as victims in an amended report obtained by the Arizona Capitol Times following a public records request.  Both were listed as witnesses in the police’s initial report.

Investigators also added three students who were in the classroom when Shooter arrived, including 18-year-old Oscar Villanueva, as victims. The two additional students’ names were redacted from the report.

Teacher Danielle Munoz and the Yuma Private Industry Council, the organization that sponsors the school, are also listed as victims.

A fourth student in the classroom, 20-year-old Adrian Covarrubias, did not want to pursue charges, the report said.

The amended report, sent to Yuma City Prosecutor Jay Cairns on April 18, includes follow-up interviews with Munoz, other members of the charter school staff, and details provided by the four students in the classroom.


Shooter has not spoken with police about the incident. Investigators were first contacted by Shooter’s spokesman, attorney Edward Novak, on March 28.

Rather than schedule an interview with Shooter and police, Novak forwarded a written statement from Shooter to investigators.

Novak told the Arizona Capitol Times he hadn’t seen a copy of the supplemental report and declined to comment.

***Concern for teacher’s safety***

In interviews with all four students in the classroom at the time of the incident, investigators determined that while Shooter wasn’t profane or making direct threats against anyone at the school, students were concerned for Munoz’s safety.

And all students told investigators they’d never seen anything like this happen at the charter school before, according the report.

Covarrubias told police Shooter had “a mad expression on his face and became aggressive. He said the more Shooter was told to leave the angrier he became. He said Shooter look frustrated,” the report said.

Covarrubias said that when Shooter tried to get by Dover and towards Munoz, another student, whose name was redacted by police, got up and placed himself  between Munoz and Shooter, the report said.

The student told investigators he could tell Shooter was mad and was pursuing Munoz while she tried to walk away, the report said.

The student told investigators “he thought [Shooter] was trying to grab her or pull her and that’s when he jumped in,” according to the report.

The student said he got in Shooter’s face and asked him to leave. Shooter never did touch Munoz, and finally walked out of the classroom, the report said.

A female student, whose name was also redacted, told police Shooter pushed aside a desk in his pursuit of Munoz, according to the report.

“She thought [Shooter] was going to try to do something to Munoz. She thought he was going to hurt her,” the report said.

***Police unable to question grandson***

Students confirmed the identity of a student who guided Shooter to Munoz’s classroom, the report said. The student, whose name is being withheld because he’s a minor, was mentioned by Shooter in his written statement to the police.

“She said Shooter asked the student ‘This is her?’ and the student replied ‘Yeah,’” investigators wrote of an interview with one student.

In the statement, Shooter said on March 20, his grandson cried and told another relative that his teacher continued to call him and another student, the same who guided Shooter to the classroom on March 22, “retarded.”

The teacher refused to let his grandson go to the bathroom on March 20, even when the school knew he had a medical condition and was having difficulty controlling his bladder, Shooter said.

Investigators have been unable to reach the student for questioning.  Police left messages for the student with his grandmother, but he has not called investigators as of April 18, the report said.

Brian Grossenburg, the school’s principal, was out of work March 22 attending to a family emergency, the report said.

Grossenburg showed investigators a copy of the school’s code of conduct, which includes language clarifying that student guests are not permitted and that all visitors, including parents and guardians, must obtain a visitor’s pass before entering the school or a classroom, the report said.

Further, “Visitors that are disruptive to function of the school will not be granted permission to visit… Violation of this policy may result in the contact of law enforcement,” the handbook states, according to the report.

Grossenburg told police that Shooter’s grandson’s parents would have had to sign a form indicating they had received the student handbook and were familiar with the code of conduct.

***No attempt to use influence***

Investigators also questioned Eileen Sigmund, president of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, about a conversation Shooter had with her shortly after the incident at the school on March 22.

School officials told police Shooter had indicated “he had a lot of influence in town and with the charter schools,” according to the report.

Sigmund told investigators Shooter did not tell her about what happened at the school that morning.  She wouldn’t learn about the incident until later that weekend.  But he did explain that he was concerned that a teacher had demeaned his grandson, according to the report.

Sigmund also explained that it was she, not Shooter, who wanted to handle the matter with the charter school “quietly,” the report said. School officials had told investigators they received an email from Sigmund expressing that the situation could be resolved quickly and quietly, the report said.

Shooter had gone to Sigmund because he was “too angry to do it himself,” she told investigators.

Sigmund told police she wanted to clear up the situation with the school because Shooter was asking about calling Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal or the State Board of Charter Schools, the report said.

However, Sigmund told police “there was absolutely no attempt by Shooter to use his influence to resolve the issue,” the report said. “[Sigmund] explained that she meets with Shooter on a weekly basis and they know each other well.”

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