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Student with laptop prompted gun scare at Cactus Shadows High School

A student checking out a laptop prompted Cactus Shadows High School to initiate a lockdown last Friday.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Scottsdale police said last Friday's lockdown at Cactus Shadows High School was prompted by a student mistakenly identified as a gunman because they were holding a laptop and power cord.

Officers were dispatched to the school in response to reports of someone having a firearm on campus. 

But a review of security footage revealed nobody had a gun. Police said a student was seen carrying an object that appeared to be a firearm and turned out to be a laptop they were checking out from the school's tech room.

Police said Friday's event was not done as some sort of hoax and the agency believes another student genuinely believed the other student may have been carrying a gun. 

Friday's lockdown was lifted by 10 a.m. 

Police said no students are facing school discipline or criminal charges as a result of Friday's incident. 

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What is the Valley?

“The Valley” is what locals call the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It is considered the largest metropolitan area in the Southwest.  

The Valley is made up of various major cities other than Phoenix, including:  

  • Mesa  

  • Chandler  

  • Scottsdale  

  • Tempe  

  • Glendale  

  • Surprise  

  • Peoria  

  • Gilbert  

  • El Mirage 

  • Avondale 

  • Litchfield Park 

  • Goodyear 

  • Buckeye 


Whether a city is in the “East Valley” or “West Valley” depends on where it is in relation to Phoenix.  

The cities of the Valley have a combined population of 4,845,832 people, according to the 2020 United States Census. This makes it the 11th largest metropolitan area in the country right behind the Boston and Atlanta areas. 

How big is Maricopa County?: 

Maricopa County is the United States’ 4th largest county in terms of population with 4,485,414 people, according to the 2020 Census. 

The county contains around 63% of Arizona’s population and is 9,224 square miles. That makes the county larger than seven U.S. states (Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire). 

One of the largest park systems in the nation is also located in Maricopa County. The county has an estimated 120,000 acres of open space parks that includes hundreds of miles of trails, nature centers and campgrounds. 

The county’s seat is located in Phoenix, which is also the state capital and the census-designated 5th most populous city in the United States. 

The county was named after the Maricopa, or Piipaash, Native American Tribe.  

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