Nicole Yao.

Some wanted more updates in real time. But others were happy not to be informed until the situation was resolved.

Those were the polar opposite views of how students at Evanston Township High School felt about being told of loaded gun in the building, according to the student member of the District 202 Board of Education.

On Monday, Nicole Yao, an ETHS junior, gave the board some anecdotal reactions she heard regarding the Nov. 9 tip about a weapon, a tip that led to the arrest of an ETHS student, 18-year-old Rashaun Watkins, on gun charges.

ETHS did not notify students, families, nor the public until after the student had been detained by police and taken away.

Unlike a previous gun incident, in December 2021, there was no lockdown and no heavy police presence.

Yao explained that in the recent case, “some students felt kept in the dark, and wanted more frequent updates about the status of their safety.”

But Yao also said there were some “surprising” comments in her English class, from those who preferred being “able to get through the day without emotionally stressing out over knowing they could be in danger.”

Police have said there was no apparent intent for a school shooting, either targeted or at random, in the current incident.

That was not so certain at first in the 2021 case, where two loaded guns were found. Two students were charged as juveniles with weapons offenses, and another juvenile faced cannabis possession charges.

Police leaving the high school on Dec. 16, 2021, apparently carrying evidence from the gun incident. (Bill Smith photo)

That case saw two weapons instead of one, drug possession and multiple potential suspects, hence the larger police presence.

Five other students were temporarily detained in that case but not charged.

That incident began with the discovery of some boys allegedly smoking marijuana in the bathroom.

No shots were fired in the 2021 incident nor in the one this month and no threats were made during either incident.

Yao, the student board member, said one common theme among students was the desire for “transparency” in such situations.

But it appears that the definition of “transparency” can vary.

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

Join the Conversation


  1. Students were left in the dark- as were parents of students. I emailed the school Thursday 11/17 asking why I had to search for the offenders name – found it but inquired why no photo of the accused has been made public. My daughter is in 10th grade. The man that brought a loaded 9 mil to his school was an adult sr in high school. She said she didn’t know him. I want to know if she recognizes him so she can steer clear of anybody he hangs out with. It’s absurd that I have to accept the school and the city response that there was “no plan for a school shooting” what, so maybe he just wanted to hurt this guy that stepped to him recently? Unacceptable – I’m a 2nd amendment guy- though I do not own a gun- but this incident is in no way under 2nd amendment protection. Why would and adult carry a loaded gun into his school if his intent wasn’t to harm someone?

  2. It amazed me that zero people from the community showed up to this board meeting to speak or even listen to what they say about the 4th gun incident in 12 months at ETHS. Only about 100 people have watched the YouTube video as well. Only mention of it was by a 17 year old, nothing by the board or admin really. It is clear that people in Evanston care very little about what actually happens at ETHS. They will whine and complain on Facebook, but rarely ever seek real action. Nothing will ever change until the community demands real action.

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