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Nichols School to remain closed after blast

Update 7:18 p.m.: School District 65 officials have announced that Nichols Middle School will remain closed Wednesday after an incident early this morning in which an explosion killed a man in a park just south of the school.

Update 7:18 p.m.: School District 65 officials have announced that Nichols Middle School will remain closed Wednesday after an incident early this morning in which an explosion killed a man in a park just south of the school.

Crime scene tape hangs from the sign in front of Nichols Middle School this afternoon.

Arrangements are being made for alternative activities for students on Wednesday. Details about that here.

Evanston police said at midafternoon today that they’re still processing the park and the school grounds as a crime scene, looking for any evidence that might shed more light on the incident.

They offered no clear indication of when that on-scene investigation might be concluded or when roads immediately around the school might be reopened.

Police Commander Tom Guenther said police are investigating the incident "as a death investigation involving an explosive device." He said it’s unclear at this point whether the death was a suicide.

He said no suicide note was found with the body or at the dead man’s home, in an apartment building at 1000-1012 Main St. But he said police are conducting a forensic investigation of the man’s computer to see if it contains any information about his motives or plans.

Commander Guenther and other public safety officials at the news conference.

He said it was not clear at this point whether the man shared his plans with any other people and that it was not yet clear whether anyone besides the dead man lived in the apartment.

Guenther said the man killed in the explosion was "known to a different police department" in the state, but he declined to provide further details about that.

The dead man’s identity is being withheld pending notification of relatives, but a resident who found the body shortly before 6 a.m. today said he appeared to be a white male in his mid 30s or 40s.

Guenther said the police are always concerned about safety at schools, but that though today’s events were highly unusual, at this point they don’t suggest any specific threat to Nichols or any other school in the city.

Mayor Tisdahl at the news conference.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she believes the police are doing an excellent job in the investigation.

Alderman Don Wilson, whose 4th Ward includes Nichols School, said that residents who see anything unusual should report it. But Wilson, who has two children at Nichols, said he doesn’t believe there’s any reason to believe there’s a threat to the school as a result of the incident.

While District 65 Superintendent Hardy Murphy was present for the news conference, he didn’t address the session, which was cut short by Guenther after about 15 minutes.

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Police news release 

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