The Evanston Police Department is continuing its search for a purportedly “emotionally disturbed person” allegedly involved in a battery in an apartment building in the 900 block of Michigan Avenue in southeast Evanston on Friday morning.

Because of the person’s perceived mental state at the time and their access to firearms in their apartment, according to police, EPD on March 17 ultimately recommended all local schools go on soft lockdown, or “Secure & Teach,” where no one can enter or exit the building, but classes proceed as normally scheduled.

Heavy police presence in the area near Sheridan Road and Lee Street, near where a disturbed individual was thought to be barricaded in a building on March 17. Credit: Joerg Metzner

Late Friday afternoon, officers entered the unit where they believed the individual was barricaded, but no one was present. Police declared the situation “secure” and lockdowns were lifted and students dismissed, with supervision from EPD.

“We don’t have information that indicates he is a threat to the community at this time,” Commander Ryan Glew, EPD spokesperson, told the RoundTable in an email Monday afternoon that for the first time used male pronouns for the person. Police have refused to release a description of the individual.

EPD: Lockdowns ‘easiest and most efficient’

On Friday, “the situation was developing and the department had a lot of resources committed to this incident,” Glew wrote in a Monday morning email. “Even though there was no threat towards schools, soft lock downs were the easiest and most efficient way to ensure school safety while the department investigated and summoned more resources.”

Officers from the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System, a network of suburban police forces around Chicago that responds to emergency situations, assisted EPD with the case.

As of March 20, no one involved in the incident is in custody, and a police investigation and a search for the suspect are ongoing, Glew wrote in his email. Any charges against the “suspect/emotionally disturbed person” will be reviewed when he is located, Glew said.

In an email to the RoundTable Monday afternoon, District 65 Executive Director of Communications Melissa Messinger said the district decided to launch soft lockdowns in all school buildings on the recommendation of EPD.

“It’s not a binary decision and there are often several factors at play. At the end of the day, the safety of our students and staff is foremost so we will always err on the side of caution,” Messinger said. “At times the recommendation may come from local law enforcement based on a situation within the community and other times it may be at the discretion of district leadership based on something occurring within the building.”

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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. “Police have refused to release a description of the individual.”

    All the effort of calling in resources from other cities, having entire school districts lock down, tank-like vehicles with big guns on the roof, numerous traffic diversions, a half day of interruption that directly affected tens of thousands of residents, visitors, children and parents.. Even after all this, they won’t even tell the community what this alleged person looks like.

    Why the hell not? Why can’t the community, the public know more about this very obvious danger? What are they hiding? They obviously don’t have the community’s best interests at heart.