Evanston Township High School given 'all-clear' after 2 guns recovered, 8 students detained

Two loaded handguns were recovered at Evanston Township High School Thursday morning – sending students and staff into lockdown for several hours. Police detained eight students in connection to the incident.

Around 9:30 a.m., Evanston police said a school resource officer received a tip about students smoking marijuana in the bathroom. The officer and school safety staff found two students smoking and detained them.

An investigation led to the "discovery of two loaded guns and marijuana in backpacks on the ETHS campus," according to an email sent to parents Thursday from Superintendent Eric Witherspoon.

Six other students were also in the bathroom at the time.

"Four of these individuals were detained relatively quickly. Two of them were not detained for some time," said Commander Ryan Glew, Evanston Police Department.

Video sent to FOX32 Chicago shows police officers walk into a dark classroom where students were huddled together to detain one male student.

Students were kept in classrooms while Evanston police and ETHS staff searched the building. According to the superintendent’s letter, the lockdown was lifted and students were dismissed at 12:40 p.m.

"No shots were fired as part of this incident and there have been no injuries reported," said Commander Glew.


Still, parents like Alejandra Ibanez are shaken up.

"I was extremely scared, at the beginning, not knowing anything at all," said Alejandra Ibanez, ETHS parent. "That’s when my own anxiety started going up – how is my child, is he safe, what’s going on in the high school? And all these images of the worst you can imagine as a parent."

Ibanez said her son was in gym class when police searched the building.

"And [police] had all the children raise their hands, put their hands up, so he was freaked out. You know that it exists but not until it happens to you does it really shake you," said Ibanez.

Superintendent Witherspoon’s letter also said, in part:

"Please be assured that we will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our students and staff at ETHS. We recognize that this has been a very difficult day in a very difficult time at ETHS."

According to police, there is no current threat to ETHS or to the public.

"Today could have been tragic but for the quick response and brave actions of our police officers and safety personnel at ETHS," said Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski.

Gandurski also said the Evanston City Council will be holding a previously scheduled special city council meeting on Monday, Dec. 20 regarding gun violence and community outreach efforts.

ETHS students won’t be back on campus until the New Year. In a separate letter to families, Superintendent Witherspoon said "in consultation with the Evanston Health & Human Services Department… ETHS will take an ‘Adaptive Pause’ beginning Dec. 17 and ending Dec. 23. This means that all ETHS students will transition to e-learning during this period."

All non-essential events and after-school activities will also be canceled during that time.