Jeremiah Grandstaff has been placed in the North Star premises on Mountain View Road. He would experience his first crime at the facility 72 hours later.
PHOENIX — In February 2021, Jeremiah Grandstaff was placed by the Department of Child Safety in an apartment-style compound near Mountain View Road in North Phoenix.
It was an independent living community for 16-20 year olds operated by North Star Independent Living Services. Its website touts its facilities as “a safe place to call home” and a “reliable place to build life skills.”
Within 72 hours, Grandstaff would experience his first crime in the facility.
“All I heard was just people screaming and stuff. And I heard the gunshots,” Grandstaff said. “If I remember correctly, it was a drive-through. So the people shooting weren’t living on North Star, but they were targeting residents of North Star.”
Grandstaff says he never felt safe.
“There was absolutely no security,” he said.
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DCS contracts with North Star to house teens and young adults at North Star’s five facilities across the state. The Mountain View complex houses up to 46 residents.
Grandstaff says he has seen drug use by some of the other residents on a daily basis and would report it, among other crimes and rule violations.
“Some of the things I was telling them were like serious things. Like somebody had a gun or they had drugs or something in my room,” Grandstaff said.
“And some of the things they would say is that they would report it, okay, I’ll handle it, it’s none of your business, you don’t have to worry about it. And then it doesn’t was never clearly supported because it’s still happening to this day.
The latest tragedy is a fatal September 1 shooting when Phoenix PD says one resident shot and killed another.
RELATED: Group Home Resident Shot, Killed in Phoenix, Suspect Detained
“It’s not a safe environment. It’s out of control,” Grandstaff said.
Grandstaff was eventually moved to another North Star home off Crocus Drive after he said he was shot in the face with a BB gun.
He finally moved out on his own earlier this year after turning 18 and now works with DCS.
“Actually, I give credit to North Star, believe it or not. They’re the reason I’m such an advocate because of the horror of the program,” he said.
Grandstaff wonders if North Star was reporting every incident at its facilities to DCS, as required. He thinks North Star should no longer have a license.
A North Star spokesperson declined interview requests but released the following statement on Thursday:
“Every incident is reported as required by law. It is also improper in our safety efforts. The safety of the young adults and adolescents in our care is our top priority and we continue to do all we can in compliance with the rules. If a resident violates the rules, our recourse is to report the incident to the case manager at AZ DCS. We cannot discipline, expel or remove a child from the site without instruction from the case manager. , after an incident in 2021, we upgraded campus lighting, added additional cameras, and followed other measures permitted by regulatory and DCS rules.”
DCS declined interview requests from 12News.
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