The preliminary police investigation into a 13-year-old student bringing a loaded gun to Chute Middle School on Monday has revealed the weapon “was taken in a burglary to [a] vehicle sometime after 11 p.m. on February 5,” according to a Thursday afternoon news release.

The boy, an Evanston resident, has been referred to Cook County Juvenile Court and named in a juvenile petition charging unlawful use of a weapon on school grounds, Evanston Police said Wednesday.

A Thursday EPD crime bulletin notes that a handgun was stolen from an unlocked 2017 Ford parked in the 100 block of Callan Avenue. “There are no charges pending for the burglary to vehicle at this time,” the EPD said in its Thursday update on the Chute investigation.

A court date is not scheduled yet, and no parents, family members or other individuals have been implicated in the police investigation up until this point, according to EPD Commander Ryan Glew.

The student is not in custody at this time. EPD Sgt. Ken Carter told the RoundTable on Friday that police have no indication or evidence to suggest that parents or guardians had knowledge of the student’s gun possession ahead of time.

“Therefore, it is unlikely they will be charged,” Carter said.

Moving forward, the court can choose a number of options that include community service, mandated safety training, further detention or dropping the charge entirely.

“I would see any further incarceration or detention as being unlikely,” Glew said Wednesday.

Seventh-graders Harper Nowlin (from left), Tyler Press and Kavya Tulsiani organized a demonstration at Chute Middle School in June 2022 for stricter gun laws. Credit: Richard Cahan

The student brought a loaded handgun to the building on Monday morning, Feb. 6, according to a news release posted Monday by the Evanston Police Department and emails to families from school officials.

Police responded to the scene around 11 a.m. after Chute administrators first got word about the gun. “The initial investigation revealed that a student was displaying a handgun to other students,” EPD said in its statement.

“A student then alerted school officials about the handgun. School officials made contact with the armed student and recovered the loaded handgun without incident.”

EPD officers took the gun as evidence and “transported the student to the police station for further investigation.”

As part of its response to the incident, Chute entered a “soft lockdown,” also known as a “secure and teach,” for about an hour on Monday morning, District 65 officials told the RoundTable. That protocol bars anyone from entering or exiting the building, though students can continue moving from class to class under the supervision of teachers and staff.

Officials were clear — they felt there were no ongoing safety concerns or threats to Chute students and staff, both EPD and District 65 officials said Monday afternoon.

“Our team will take the opportunity to speak with all students by grade level this afternoon,” Chute Principal Jim McHolland said in an email to families.

“We are launching our crisis response team, which consists of mental health professionals, to the school to help students who may need help processing what occurred. Our educators will check in with students and will let students know support is available for those who may be in need.”

“We recognize how upsetting this situation is. Our district and our school continue to take a very proactive approach as it relates to safety,” McHolland said in his email to families on Monday. “Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our students and staff and we will continue to operate with intentionality and care. Thank you for your understanding.”

Response from Superintendent Horton

At about 5:30 p.m., Superintendent Devon Horton sent an email note to parents about the incident. (The entire note appears below at the end of this article.)

After describing to families what happened, Horton wrote: “I know how upsetting this situation is for all members of our community and the continued trauma and impact of gun violence within our community.

“Earlier today, our crisis response team, which consists of mental health professionals, was deployed to Chute in support of our students and staff. The Chute team also gathered students by grade level to discuss and help students collectively and individually process what had occurred.

He continued: “We must continue to stress the importance of and our commitment to safety in our schools. Today serves as a difficult reminder of why we must be proactive in regularly taking action to enhance and refine our district-wide safety protocols and school crisis plans.”

Horton reminded families about new school safety measures recently launched, writing: “This summer we put a dedicated, centralized team in place to oversee safety efforts and response across our schools, in addition to having a School Concierge to support visitors at each building’s main entrance.

“Most recently, our schools are launching a new visitor management system (Hall Pass) and Smart Tag bus rider cards. We also continue to focus efforts on fostering relationships, improving school climate, and proactively addressing issues of bullying. I encourage you to visit our D65 website to learn more about our efforts.”

Back in June 2022, hundreds of students at Chute walked out of class on a Tuesday morning to protest gun violence in schools in the wake of the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 21 students and teachers at an elementary school on May 24.

McHolland said then that “it was an outstanding event” and “I’m glad our kids did this,” after the protest.

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Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...

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  1. I think I’m pretty middle-of-the-road about guns and gun ownership but this idea that the 2nd amendment gives gun owners a free pass on criminal negligence is just absolutely bonkers. Everyone pretends like the “well-regulated” part of the 2nd amendment doesn’t exist. Since when is leaving a gun in an unlocked car part of a “well-regulated militia”? There need to be storage requirements and criminal charges for those in violation.

    If I left a fifth of vodka in an unlocked car, and a kid broke in and drank it. I would be liable. How is this any different?

  2. Trisha, agreed. But was the car this gun was stolen from in his parent’s car? MANY guns used in violent crimes are stolen from vehicles. People need to secure their guns properly.

  3. We seriously need a law that says if a MINOR child gets a GUN from YOUR HOME YOU will be held responsible. First for child endangerment. Also if they take it somewhere it should not be YOU are responsible and will be charged accordingly. If they hurt someone with it YOU are responsible and will be charged accordingly. This doesn’t preclude charges for older minors but PARENTS/ADULTS that don’t take proper precautions regarding gun security that allows MINORS to get possession of a gun should also be held accountable under the law.

  4. The D65 response to this potentially horrific incidence was to tell us about their updated visitor policies. Those policies are totally irrelevant in this situation. Why are they not telling us what they plan to do to prevent other students from bringing loaded guns to our schools??

    1. I had the exact same reaction. You have Horton touting all these things they have done, none of which were effective in keeping a gun out of the school!

      Thanks for nothing!

      1. Dear Sue and Stephan,

        I believe ur responsibility is to tell you what government officials are saying and ensure that we give accurate context for the remarks. In this case, we did just that. What you think of the reaction, is up to you. But you won’t know what is going on if it’s not reported accurately.

      2. I’m a big critic of Dr. Horton but I thought his response was fine. I’m not sure what, exactly, he can do. Install metal detectors? Hire more mental support health? I think this is up to parents (like you guys) to voice your opinion to the School Board on this (at least email them!). We need more constructive voices around this stuff because I honestly, have no idea how to solve for this.

  5. In Michigan parents are held accountable for the actions of their children. This is what happened with the 2022 Oakland, Michigan school shooting. The parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter In December 2022 the father of the Highland Park shooter was charged. Fortunately, tragedy was averted this morning at Chute Middle School. So much more needs to be done here in Illinois to prevent all this violence.