Evanston police say they’ve increased patrols around the Barbereux School in northwest Evanston following reports of two altercations between a school employee and a neighbor.

Police Cmdr. Ryan Glew says officers responded to the 2500 block of Crawford Avenue at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday for a report of an aggravated assault.

He says officers learned that an employee of the preschool, at 3333 Culver St., had gotten into a verbal altercation with a person clearing snow at a neighboring residence and that the school employee had pointed a handgun at the other person.

The altercation did not escalate further and no one was injured, and Glew says the school employee, James S. Coffey, 58, of 211 E. North St. in Muncie, Indiana, was arrested for aggravated assault, a Class A misdemeanor.

A handgun was recovered, but there were no additional weapons charges because the handgun was legally possessed at the time of the incident. 

Update 5:10 p.m. 1/26/23: Police now say that what they initially reported as a second encounter between the same two people Thursday morning actually did not involve the now former school employee.

Glew says the victim in Wednesday’s incident believed he was approached by Coffey again about 8:40 a.m. Thursday.

But police say their investigation has now revealed that it was not Coffey, but another resident of the area who approached the victim.

The victim had dropped an object and the resident attempted to return it to the victim. But believing Coffey was approaching, the victim fled and called police.

After Thursday morning’s incident, the Barbereux School imposed a soft lock down. Glew says police still plan to continue increased patrols in the area to elevate visibility and safety.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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