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Man killed by bomb near Nichols School

Evanston’s Nichols Middle School remains closed at this hour after a man was killed in a bomb blast near the school in the early morning hours today.

Police look for evidence near where the body was found.

Evanston’s Nichols Middle School remains closed at this hour after a man was killed in a bomb blast near the school in the early morning hours today.

Police look for evidence near where the body was found.

Evanston police say they received phone calls from residents in the area around the school shortly before 4 a.m. reporting an explosion.

One witness said the blast set off alarms on several cars parked near his home.

Police units dispatched to the area didn’t immediately find anything, but shortly before dawn a man walking his dog in Fitzsimons Park just south of the school found a man’s body.

A Cook County Bomb Squad unit called to the scene determined that there were other potential explosive devices near the body, and the bomb squad conducted a controlled detonation of a device shortly after 9 a.m.

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Update 1:20 p.m.:

City officials now say the incident was apparently a suicide by gun shot and explosive. The victim appears to have fired a round thru a can of black powder thus causing the powder to exploded.

Police also cordoned off a mixed-use building at Main Street and Maple Avenue late this morning. A business owner with offices in the building said he was told police believed the building was the residence of the dead man and they feared they might find additional explosives in his apartment. No word yet on whether anything was actually found there.

End update

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Police Commander Tom Guenther talks to reporters at the scene.

Rhonda Present, the parent of a Nichols School student, said she was concerned about a delay in notifying parents of the incident, which left many students walking or being bused or brought by parents to the building ahead of the 8:35 a.m. school start time without knowing that they’d find the building surrounded by police and would be told they had to go back home.

But Alderman Don Wilson, whose 4th Ward includes the school site, said he believed the school district’s response — which included automated phone calls and e-mail messages — was adequate in the situation, given the relatively short time frame between the discovery of the body and the start of classes.

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