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Elementary School Principal Plunges To His Death At Disneyland After Being Charged With Battery, Child Endangerment
Christopher Christensen, an elementary school principal in Southern California, died of an apparent suicide at Disneyland over the weekend.
A Southern California elementary school principal who plunged to his death Saturday night at a Disneyland parking garage was facing misdemeanor child endangerment and battery charges.
Christopher Christensen, 51, was scheduled to appear in court on Monday. He had pleaded not guilty to both charges, according to Los Angeles news outlet KABC.
Anaheim Police discovered his body after someone reported a man had fallen from the Mickey & Friends parking structure at Disneyland. Police suspect it was a suicide but are awaiting a report from the coroner’s office on the cause of death, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Christensen was a principal at Newland Elementary School with more than 20 years as an administrator in the Fountain Valley School District. Before joining Newland, Christensen served as principal for Courreges Elementary School for 11 years from 2011 to 2022. He also worked as a musician performing across Southern California.
Hours before his death, a man identifying himself as Christopher Christensen posted a lengthy Facebook post.
Christensen said in the post that he had been placed on administrative leave after an argument with his wife, Marlena, “landed me in jail that night.”
“I hate when people leave this Earth with so many unanswered questions. So, I hope this provides some insight and perspective,” Christensen wrote. “So, here I am…writing my final FB post to all of you. I need you all to know that a gentle, kind, loving and sincerely good man has been destroyed by one unfortunate night. It really is unfortunate! This is NOT me! This is NOT something that I ever thought would happen to me.”
The alleged incident took place on Nov. 15, and Christensen posted a $10,000 bond and was released on Nov. 17, the Mercury News reported.
“Unfortunately, Marlena’s anger got the best of her that night and she called the police, which landed me in jail that night. Yes, me! A man who has never hit or harmed ANYONE in his life! I think it’s safe to say that Marlena truly regrets making that call, because the events of that night have completely unraveled both of our lives,” he wrote. “I am on the brink of losing my job, as I am out on administrative leave until my case is 'resolved.' However, the legal system is extremely flawed (especially against men/fathers) and it’s sickening how quickly and easily an innocent man can be thrown in jail based on zero evidence or proof!”
He ended the lengthy post by asking everyone to be kind.
“Please, please, please be kind to one another! Treat each other with kindness and grace. There is too much anger in the world and people need to start treating each other better,” he wrote. “What I’ve shared with you above is a prime example of how 'anger' can really have long-lasting and extremely damaging effects on a person’s life.”
Dianna Gray told the Mercury News that she had known Christensen for 30 years. She described him as a cellist and singer and said he owned a company that specialized in providing string ensembles for weddings and other events.
“He was one of my favorite people to play with because I loved his musicality. I liked how he led jobs. He was always fun, humorous, he seemed to always find the joy in the work. He was a high-level professional and he was a people person,” Gray told the newspaper.
She said he was adored by his students and coworkers.
“There’s going to be a huge impact on a lot of young children. His kids at school absolutely loved and adored him, his teachers adored him and those who worked with him adored him,” Gray said.
The Fountain Valley School District is providing grief counselors to students, staff and their families, KABC reported.
"I too am struggling to find adequate words to convey the shock and heartbreak we are all feeling right now," FVSD Superintendent Katherine Stopp said in a statement obtained by KABC. "I know that we will find a way to come together as a community and care for one another. Let us all show patience to each other as we work through this time in the next days and weeks."
Christensen was the son of James “Jim” Christensen, the renowned musical director for Disney theme parks. The elder Christensen died in 2020, according to the New York Post.