Sedona AZ (September 4, 2019) – The Sedona Police Department has begun the next phase of ensuring school safety following the arrest last Friday, Aug. 30, of 19-year-old Thomas Zielinski on charges related to events at Sedona Red Rock Junior-Senior High School.
“We have already conducted several debriefings,” says Chief Charles Husted, “and will continue in the coming weeks to further review emergency protocols both internally and externally. I am very pleased with our officers’ response to the incident at Sedona Red Rock Junior-Senior High School and the follow up investigation. At the same time, we always need to be vigilant and continue to maintain a high level of preparedness.”
On Thursday, Aug. 29, Sedona Police Department School Resource Officer (SRO) Jackie McQuaid initiated a lockdown at Sedona Red Rock Junior-Senior High School. The Sedona Police Department provides the following timeline and explanation of the events before and after the lockdown:
SRO McQuaid received information that 19-year-old former student Thomas Zielinski could be coming to the school because of an incident between his girlfriend and another male student. The Sedona Police Department had information that Zielinski was known to possess a firearm, and when SRO McQuaid spotted Zielinski’s car in the student parking area, she initiated a lockdown at 11:47 a.m.
Four minutes later, six Sedona Police Department officers arrived on scene at the school to look for Zielinski and shortly after, a call came in to the Sedona Police Department Communications Center that there was a possible active shooter at the school. The Sedona Police Department did not hear any shots fired, but followed the protocol to locate the suspect where it was believed he could be. Additionally, all surrounding agencies, including the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Camp Verde Marshal’s Office and Yavapai Apache Tribe, arrived on scene, with the Coconino County Sherriff’s Office and Department of Public Safety cancelled prior to arrival.
While the school was being searched, Zielinski called the Sedona Police Department Communications Center to inform officers he was not on campus, but at a house in West Sedona. Upon finding him at this residence at 12:42 p.m., police ended the lockdown.
Officers brought Zielinski into the Police Department to be questioned and he was given a no trespassing order for Sedona Red Rock Junior-Senior High School. He was released because police had no grounds to hold him at that time.
However, at around 5 p.m. on Thursday, Zielinski violated the no trespassing order when he was seen on school grounds as a passenger in someone else’s car. This occurred while police were actively investigating Zielinski, gathering additional information on the events leading up to Thursday’s lockdown. That information included witnesses reporting seeing Zielinski at the high school on Tuesday, Aug. 27, inside a car, recklessly handling a firearm.
The Sedona Police Department arrested Zielinski on Friday, Aug. 30, at 2:34 p.m. during a traffic stop in which he was a passenger in the car in question.
Zielinski is charged with:
- Possessing a deadly weapon in a school zone.
- Recklessly handling and brandishing a weapon.
- Carrying a deadly weapon while in a car and being under 21 years old.
The Sedona Police Department located and confiscated the firearm related to his charges. Zielinski was released from Yavapai County Jail on a $5,000 bond.
“It’s important to note that the investigation shows that this incident was a result of a relationship dispute, not someone planning a mass attack. Additionally, the rapport our School Resource Officer has with administrators and students at the school was critical to ensuring the safety of everyone on campus,” says Husted.