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ETHS on lockdown over gun threat

Updated 11:49 a.m., 11:58 a.m., 1:50 p.m.: Evanston Township High School officials have asked parents to not visit the school today and are keeping students and staff inside the building because of an anonymous threat.

Updated 11:49 a.m., 11:58 a.m., 1:50 p.m.: Evanston Township High School officials have asked parents to not visit the school today and are keeping students and staff inside the building because of an anonymous threat.

A police car blocks a driveway entrance at the high school late this morning.

Evanston police say a male caller phoned the school about 8 a.m., said he was upset about a breakup with a girlfriend, and said he planned to bring a gun to school and start shooting people within a couple of hours.

School Superintendent Eric Witherspoon says the caller "did not indicate that he or his girlfriend was affiliated with ETHS. We are not sure if the caller was a student or an adult."

A message posted on the school’s website says, "We have received an anonymous phone call from a person outside the building who claims to have a gun. We know that schools do periodically receive anonymous threats, such as bomb threats, and those threats are usually not credible."

"Nonetheless," the statement continues, "we are working with the Evanston Police Department and taking all necessary steps to protect our students and staff. There is a large police presence inside and outside of ETHS today. This is a precautionary step for everyone’s safety."

The message, which was also delivered to parents by automated phone calls, adds, "Please do not come to ETHS today or ask that your student be dismissed from school today. We have secured the school and we will keep it secure all day. There will also be a huge police presence today when school is dismissed." 

Police have several officers posted around the school campus at this hour and Commander Tom Guenther says the department will have an increased presence at the school for the rest of the week. He said that so far there’s been no evidence of anyone actually attempting to carry out the threat.

Witherspoon said the threatening call referred to action this morning and no threat was made for later in the day. So, he says, after-school and evening activities at ETHS will proceed as planned.  "However, there will be an increased police presence as well as a large detail of ETHS Safety officers at ETHS this evening."

The superintendent said heightened security measures will be in place for the remainder of the week while the police investigation continues. "In the mornings before school, only the front entrance and the back entrance will be open.  All students and school personnel will have to enter through one of those two doors," Witherspoon added.

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