Irredeemable: The Gilbert Goons

Irredeemable: The Gilbert Goons

And the Parents, Schools, and Police Who Shield Them


It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Your child leaves the house for a routine activity––practice, school, a party––and you never see them alive again. That’s the hell Autumn Curiel and Nick Lord, the parents of murdered 16-year-old Preston Lord, are now living. Their child was brutally killed, allegedly beaten to death by seven members of the Gilbert Goons. I’ve thrown in the requisite “allegedly” even though these criminals recorded their crime. 

It is through these videos that the true depravity of the Gilbert Goons is shown. The Goons are a gang of mostly white, affluent, private school-attending teenagers and young men who live in the East Valley. Many have been reluctant to label them a gang despite their continued violent assaults throughout Phoenix’s suburbs. However, they are in many ways worse than a typical street gang because they’re attacking and killing random people for sport as opposed to territory, illegal business interests, or gang-related beefs. While innocent bystanders are often harmed by gang violence, it is rare for today’s urban gangs to engage in coordinated attacks against unknown people (despite urban legends to the contrary).

It’s not only their outreach of violence and the absurdity of recording their exploits that separates the Goons from the stereotypical gang. It is also their race and social class. Most of these young men are white and affluent. Indeed, those characteristics are likely the only reason they were running free the night they murdered Preston Lord. The Goons’ reign of terror had been going on for at least a year before the killing. Schools had been notified, shown videos of brutal beatings that left children hospitalized, and done nothing. Police had been notified, shown videos of brutal beatings that left children hospitalized, and done nothing. For their gross inaction, some of Lord’s blood is on their hands. 

A few months before Lord’s murder, Rick Kuehner’s son began receiving threats from kids he didn’t know at the school he had just started attending. They were members of the Gilbert Goons. They came to his home, possibly armed, which prompted Kuehner to call the police. The Goons eventually attacked Kuehner’s son outside of an In-N-Out Burger, which left him with more than $14,000 in medical bills. Again, Kuehner went to the police. The police made the case “inactive” without even bothering to inform him. Emboldened, the Goons’ threats continued. With the Goons seemingly determined to kill his son, Kuehner felt he had no choice but to send him overseas. 

Today, Kuehner and his son are suing the Goons, their parents, and others connected to the case in civil court with the charges of conspiracy and negligence. According to lawyer Richard Lyons, “The young and completely innocent victims of these assaults suffered skull fractures, facial fractures, broken and missing teeth, concussions and other serious injuries…After many of the assaults, the Gilbert Goons continued terrorizing their victims by texting threats of further violence and even death.” He continued, “Preston’s killers should have been in juvie … Why weren’t they arresting and charging these kids?” 

One look at the kids and their parents’ bank accounts makes it clear why. Does anyone believe that Black or Hispanic kids from the wrong side of town would have gotten away with repeatedly threatening, stalking, and beating high school students? That police would have ignored the video evidence? That school administrators would have said they “couldn’t identify” the attackers who attended that very school from the many, many videos? Of course not. 

It’s hard to imagine how anyone could have watched any of these recordings and remained silent. Aside from the violence itself, the glee the Goons take is horrifying. They celebrated over Lord’s dying body and bragged about the murder online. One would think that, hearing Lord had died, the seriousness of their actions would have finally sunk in. But to the contrary, their celebrations continued. One bragged about causing Lord to require a closed casket funeral. One bragged about not knowing his own strength, despite the fact that the fight was seven to one. They felt no qualms or fear about bragging about the murder. They were so confident that they would face no consequences for the killing because they hadn’t had to face any from schools, police, or parents for the countless assaults they’d perpetrated and posted online. 

The Goons’ parents have expressed no remorse for the murder and innumerable beatings committed by their children. The parents of one of Lord’s killers reportedly sent their child away to hide the injuries his hands sustained during the murder and attempted to change calendar entries to make it seem like he was out of town during the attack. They also allegedly hatched a plot to blame his participation on another Goon with the same first name.

Parents of Goons who weren’t present during Lord’s murder have stated that their children have “no guilt,” despite being on video participating in several other beatings. As though being part of a gang that routinely attacks to the point of near-death is acceptable behavior from their children. It’s unconscionable that someone could see videos of helpless children crouched in the fetal position trying to protect their heads, necks, and organs from stomps, kicks, and punches and say the attackers have “no guilt.”

Lord’s seven alleged killers have now been indicted on first degree murder charges and are being tried as adults though three of them were minors at the time of the killing. Despite this, attacks by members of the Goons continue.

They rejoice in violence and seek to spread their message of brutality online. They are modern televangelists whose religion is bloodshed. They find joy in causing pain and our streets will not be safe until they’re locked up, preferably for life. Their continued violence and the glee they find in it are not the actions of criminals who can be rehabilitated. Mere weeks after Lord’s murder the Gilbert Goons were at it again, hunting, surrounding, and attacking as a pack. They are irredeemable. 


Part 1 of a 4-Part Series