The principal of an east-side high school has been cited for a misdemeanor assault charge after an incident in which he punched a minor, according to Tucson Police.
According to a police report, Chris Bonn was cited and released after he punched Ramon Morales Jr., 16, early Monday morning.
Bonn is the principal of Sahuaro High School. Morales, who is a student at Santa Rita High School, is dating Bonn's stepdaughter.
According to the report, Bonn told police he punched Morales because he thought he was reaching for a gun.
Bonn told police he waited in his driveway for his stepdaughter, after he noticed she was not home. According to police, Bonn said he saw Morales' car park nearby and waited for a while before approaching the car. Bonn said he opened the driver-side door and confronted Morales, police say.
The police say Bonn punched Morales in the face four or five times. Morales' father took him to a local hospital for treatment after he was evaluated by paramedics at the scene.
"I found it out from a fellow student of mine actually. I was actually quite shocked," said Sahuaro High School junior Caleb Stockellburg.
Word spread through Sahuaro High School late Tuesday that Bonn is charged with misdemeanor assault for attacking and injuring the 16-year-old.
"I was in the medical field and I know that the face can bleed a lot," said Sharon Burmeister as she looked at pictures provided by the Morales family before she picked up a student at the school.
The Tucson Police report said that Morales brought Bonn's stepdaughter home about 4 or 4:30 Monday morning when it happened. Students and those picking up students at Sahuaro were still finding out.
"When you look back at it, he still should have called the authorities. That would have been the appropriate thing to do," Burmeister said.
"He did not hesitate. He wasn't like, 'Oh yeah? What are you guys doing, huh?' He wasn't having a civil conversation. He opened my door and just hit me right there," Morales said.
Accounts differ in the police report. But several show Bonn believed that Morales had a gun in the car. Morales said that Bonn started punching him four or five times and pushing him against the steering wheel before asking, 'Where's your gun now?'
Another account, likely from Bonn, says a June encounter led him to believe that Morales could have a gun in the car, and that on Monday, Morales reached between the seats were the emergency brake was before Bonn punched him once. But the Morales family said none of them have ever owned a gun.
"I don't know what he has bad on me. I just know he doesn't like me," Morales said.
"Sometimes I also try to be an overprotective dad if I find myself in that situation. But we always have to at least realize what's going on and where our actions are going to lead us," said his father, Roman Morales.
"As a parent, we understand that we get upset, you know, situations with our kids. But you have to think about what you're doing and how your doing it," said his stepmother, Alda Morales.
But those hearing about this for the first time on Tuesday weren't ready to say who was right and who was wrong.
"I'd want to know more about this story before I make judgment on this guy," Burmeister said.
Bonn was recently a principal at Santa Rita High School where Morales is a student. But Morales said that he had not had any severe encounters with Bonn then.
The following is a written statement from the Tucson Unified School District about Sahuaro Principal Chris Bonn:
Tucson Unified School District has learned that Sahuaro High School Principal Chris Bonn was charged with a misdemeanor crime involving an altercation with a minor. The protection of our students is a priority for TUSD and any behavior that threatens that protection is completely inappropriate and unacceptable. Dr. Bonn has been assigned to home pending a review of the facts of the situation. While the altercation was an off-duty incident that occurred outside of any TUSD property, the district is taking this measure to ensure our students are safe at school. Once the incident is reviewed by district leadership, appropriate action will be taken.
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