Student tips lead to arrest of two Simi Valley teens, one allegedly armed at a football game

Football players in white or gray and black uniforms on a field.
Royal quarterback Evan Nagy (26 ) passes against Newbury Park on Sept. 16, 2022, in Thousand Oaks.
(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

A pair of student tips led to the arrest of two Simi Valley teenage friends over a four-day period, including one who brought a gun and ammunition to a crowded Royal High School football game Friday evening, police said.

Simi Valley police announced that one of the 15-year-olds was armed with a handgun and was taken into custody on campus shortly after the game and that another was arrested Monday at his residence.

“This is a case of ‘see something, say something,’” Police Sgt. Chris Johnson said. “If you see somebody who’s armed, tell an administrator or a security guard or officer.”


Police arrested the first suspect shortly after 9 p.m. Friday. The unidentified teen was armed with a 9-millimeter handgun and a 15-round magazine in his waistband, police said. A subsequent search of a backpack produced additional rounds.

Hani Youssef, superintendent of the Simi Valley Unified School District, said in a statement to parents that the teen was not a district student.

Officials have arrested Zarbab Ali, 25, in connection with the death of Rachel Castillo, 25, whose remains were found Sunday in the Antelope Valley.

Nov. 13, 2022

Jake Finch, the district’s public information officer, said a student spotted “something suspicious” and informed a school administrator, who in turn alerted one of the district’s two resource officers, who are Simi Valley police officers. The student was arrested without incident.

“This is a success story because we had measures in place, and someone dangerous was caught and arrested,” Finch said. “We had extra security out for the game and thankfully this didn’t become a bad situation.”

Finch said the district pays for private security along with overtime to Simi Valley police to patrol district games.

Johnson confirmed there were three police officers in attendance, including a sergeant.

After Friday’s arrest, another student alerted police of a photo circulating on social media of a Simi Valley High School student on probation possessing a weapon, Johnson said.


Police conducted a search at the student’s home Monday afternoon and arrested that 15-year-old, who tried to hide his 9-mm handgun, police said.

“Basically when the officers got there, he was in a bedroom and dropped it out of a window,” Johnson said of the weapon. “We were already there and saw an arm come out the window.”

Austin Eis, 24, was arrested a day after teenagers were struck by a vehicle near Westlake High School. Authorities concluded the crash was intentional.

April 19, 2023

Johnson said there was no evidence the teens were planning something together, but an investigation is underway.

Johnson said it was unclear how or where the teens acquired their arms and ammunition. He called the youngsters “friends,” but did not offer more information about their connection.

The teen who brought the weapon to the football game was charged with carrying a firearm on school grounds, possession of a large-capacity magazine, a minor in possession of ammunition, carrying a loaded firearm and carrying a concealed firearm, Johnson said.

The Simi Valley High student was charged with being a minor in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and felony possession of a firearm and ammunition, Johnson said.


Finch said she could not confirm what academic punishment, including expulsion, would be handed to the student.

Youssef said in a statement he was “very concerned about these two arrests and the ongoing safety of our schools for all involved.”

He did, however, “want to praise the students who immediately reported their concerns in both cases. Their information was vital to the arrest of both teens.”