A Scottsdale Fire Department captain and his wife were arrested early Sunday for allegedly terrorizing teenagers at gunpoint in their Mesa suburb. But prosecutors have so far declined to file charges, arguing that the case needs further investigation.
The incident stemmed from a teenagers' prom night after-party hosted by the now-former captain, Steven Leitzell, and his wife, Emily Leitzell, at their house in the Eastmark neighborhood, according to court records. The night ended with Steven and Emily pointing handguns at teenagers and chasing them through the neighborhood — partly due to the fact that they believed their 16-year-old daughter had been intimate with a teenage boy, the records state.
They were eventually arrested by Mesa police and booked on suspicion of committing a range of criminal charges, including resisting arrest and aggravated assault, a Class 3 Felony.
Steven has since resigned from his position as a captain with the Scottsdale Fire Department.
Jennifer Liewer, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, wrote in an email to Phoenix New Times on May 6 that the case has been sent back to the Mesa Police Department for "additional investigation."
"Prosecutors would like additional interviews to be completed and for additional information about the incident to be provided to our office," she wrote. "There are witness statements and videos that we don’t have yet that we want to review before making a charging decision."
Detective Nik Resheta, a spokesperson for the Mesa Police Department, dismissed the decision to refer the case back to the department as "common."
"I would not immediately assume it’s an incomplete or subpar type of investigation because there can be so many other reasons," he said.
As Mesa police told the court in the Leitzells' booking sheet:
The incident began at around 1 a.m. on the morning of May 2 when Steven allegedly became "enraged" because he couldn't find his daughter at the party. He allegedly pointed a handgun at the chest of a teenage boy while demanding to know where his daughter was. He learned that his daughter might be in a car driven by a 16-year-old boy who had been drinking. (The court document provides the boy's first name, but New Times isn't naming him because he may be a witness in the case.)
After Steven and Emily Leitzell kicked everyone out of the house, their daughter returned. Her father, allegedly concerned about the teen's virginity, lost his cool. He allegedly chased a car full of teenagers in his Ford F-150 truck while holding a handgun, and blocked another car full of five male teenagers while shouting, "Where is [the boy]?"
Emily exited the truck and allegedly pointed a handgun at the teens in the car. Steven stalked nearby condominiums where he suspected that the 16-year-old boy lived, saying he was going to stay there until the boy came out. He also called the juvenile "derogatory names."
By the time Mesa officers arrived, Steven was back at his house. After speaking with the police, Steven tried to go inside the house but was detained forcefully at around 2 a.m. Police accuse him of aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct with a weapon.
His wife, Emily, was arrested hours later, just after 9 a.m., after she refused to come out of the house. Cops booked her on suspicion of five counts of aggravated assault. One neighbor, who declined to be named, told Phoenix New Times during a phone interview that there was a standoff between police officers and Emily, with cops negotiating via bullhorn.
"It was just like the movies with neighbors coming up and saying, "Emily it’s not worth it. Come out'," the neighbor said.
Two handguns were recovered by police inside the home, but Steven denied having them in his possession at any point during the night of the party. He admitted to being "angry" after learning that his daughter had lost her virginity and that he had wanted to speak to the teen boy involved. Steven also said that he was "black out" and doesn't remember all of what transpired.
New Times attempted to contact Emily and Steven at their house, but no one came to the door. Other neighbors in the area declined to be interviewed.
In a statement, Scottsdale Fire Chief Tom Shannon distanced the agency from Leitzell.
"Mr. Leitzell’s behavior over the last weekend was contrary to the standards of the Scottsdale Fire Department," he said. "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."
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