EVANSTON, Ill. — A middle school in Evanston was placed on soft lockdown Monday after a loaded handgun was found in possession of a student.

At around 11 a.m., police were dispatched to Chute Middle School, located in the 1400 block of Oakton, on the report of a gun in the school.

A preliminary investigation revealed that a 13-year-old boy was displaying a loaded handgun to other students.

A Smith and Wesson 9mm handgun was recovered without incident and the student was transported to the police station for further investigation. Police said they do not believe there was any credible threat to other students or staff inside the building.

The lockdown has since been lifted.

“Why would you have a loaded gun at home?” asked Rene Hernandez, who received a call from his sister to pick up her son from Chute Middle School. “Who knows how he got his hands on it? Sometimes, parents do keep guns kids get into everything nowadays.”

Both police and parents praised the student who spoke up.

“The student did absolutely the right thing. It was textbook what he did. He saw something that was a danger to the school, he went right away and reported it to the staff, as he should have and the staff took action from there,” said Evanston police Sgt. Sophia Sayed. “It was handled perfectly.”

District 65 Superintendent Dr. Devon Horton issued a statement Monday night:

Dear District 65 Community –

I am deeply troubled to inform you that a little after 11am this morning, our Chute Middle School leadership team recovered a loaded handgun from a student. As a precautionary measure, the decision was made to put the school on a Secure & Teach (or soft lockdown). The Evanston Police Department and our district emergency response team were immediately contacted to lend support.

Based on the initial investigation, the Secure & Teach was later lifted as there was no indication of an active or credible threat to student or staff safety. The student was removed from the campus and the weapon is in possession of the Police Department. We are unable to share any further details and a full investigation into the matter is underway.

We are grateful for the thoughtful response of our Chute team, district emergency response team, and the Evanston Police Department in handling this matter with the utmost urgency and care. We are also extending our appreciation to the student who brought this forward. As in all of our schools, we work to create safe and supportive environments where there are trusting relationships among students and staff. We encourage students to continue to bring matters of concern forward.

I know how upsetting this situation is for all members of our community and the continued trauma and impact of gun violence within our community. Earlier today, our crisis response team, which consists of mental health professionals, was deployed to Chute in support of our students and staff. The Chute team also gathered students by grade level to discuss and help students collectively and individually process what had occurred.

We must continue to stress the importance of and our commitment to safety in our schools. Today serves as a difficult reminder of why we must be proactive in regularly taking action to enhance and refine our district-wide safety protocols and school crisis plans.

This summer we put a dedicated, centralized team in place to oversee safety efforts and response across our schools, in addition to having a School Concierge to support visitors at each building’s main entrance. Most recently, our schools are launching a new visitor management system (Hall Pass) and Smart Tag bus rider cards. We also continue to focus efforts on fostering relationships, improving school climate, and proactively addressing issues of bullying. I encourage you to visit our D65 website to learn more about our efforts.

We recognize the trust our families place in us when sending their children to school and that of our staff in coming to work. This matters every single day. I do not take this lightly and, as Superintendent, I will always take a proactive, safety-first approach.

If you have questions about your school’s safety efforts, I encourage you to reach out to their leadership team. I thank you for your continued partnership and support.

With safety in mind,
Dr. Devon Horton (he/him)