Police say eight Evanston Township High School students, all juveniles, have been detained following a Thursday morning incident in which two guns were discovered in the building.

No shots were fired, no one was injured, but the 3,700-student school did go on lockdown for about three hours. Roads surrounding the school were blocked off, as multiple police departments from surrounding communities responded to help.

“Everybody was scared,” said a freshman who did not want her name used. “Somebody in my class had a panic attack.”

Evanston Police Cmdr. Ryan Glew said that at 9:32 a.m., the school resource officer at ETHS, a city police officer assigned to the campus, was alerted to the possibility of cannabis being smoked in a bathroom.

Glew said the SRO and school safety staff responded, and detained two people for smoking marijuana.

That, Glew said, “led to the recovery of two handguns.”

Glew said there were six other people in the bathroom at the time, all of whom were subsequently detained as well.

“All are believed to be involved or in the bathroom at the time of the incident,” he said.

There is no word yet on any charges, nor motive for why the guns were brought to school. Glew said this is still an active investigation, although there was never any threat to other area schools.

He added, “This is not, I repeat, not related to the Nov. 28 shooting on Green Bay Road,” where a 17-year old was killed and four other teenagers were wounded.

A 19-year-old Chicago man, who police say drove the car used in that drive-by-shooting, has been arrested, and other suspects are being sought.

Update 7:30 p.m.: At a 7th Ward meeting Thursday evening, Police Sgt. Chelsea Brown said at least one of the guns recovered at ETHS was loaded.

She said two persons in the boys bathroom each had one gun and one individual had a large amount of cannabis.

Brown said no threat was directed against the school or any individual during the incident.

While no one was hurt at ETHS, it was still unnerving.

ETHS students walking home down Church Street when classes were dismissed early after the lockdown incident. (Jeff Hirsh photo)

Alicia Jordan, the mother of an ETHS sophomore, said, “This community has been through a lot. I’m anxious for the city.”

At an afternoon news conference, interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski thanked the Evanston Police and also ETHS safety staff for their quick response, “especially the school resource officer who was first on the scene.”

Today could have been “a lot worse,” Gandurski said, without the “brave actions of our police officers and the safety personnel at ETHS.”

On Monday, Evanston City Council will hold a special meeting about gun violence and community outreach. The session was scheduled before the guns were found at the high school, but that incident makes the council meeting even more timely.

The frightened ETHS freshman put it this way: “It’s disgusting we all have to live with what’s going on in this world today.”

Update 6 p.m.: Late Thursday ETHS announced that students upset about the day’s events can reach out to a school social worker, counselor or psychologist via email for assistance or can be directed to an ETHS mental health provider by calling 847-424-7230.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.