New Trier students with ‘toy guns’ cause scare at Kenilworth’s Sears School
A group of teenagers reportedly carrying plastic guns Wednesday morning caused a lockdown at Joseph Sears School in Kenilworth.
The Kenilworth Police Department reportedly located four juveniles — two near the school and two more at a home in Winnetka — who reportedly were involved in the incident and possessed play guns, such as Orbeez blasters, that discharge water balls at high velocity.
The Kenilworth Police Department sent a release at 1:38 p.m. reporting that there was not a threat to the community and KPD “is exploring enforcement action.”
At around 10:30 a.m., Sears School staffers dialed 911 to report that multiple juveniles walked past the school with weapons, the release says.
Police officers first located two of the juveniles in the immediate area, and those individuals reportedly identified two others who were with them. Kenilworth PD gained assistance from Winnetka police and New Trier High School to locate the other two.
New Trier High School Superintendent Dr. Paul Sally send an email to parents at 1:49 p.m. with details of the incident involved students at the high school.
“Given the recent school shooting in Nashville and yesterday’s gun-related lockdown at Highland Park High School, along with the constant news of mass shootings across the country, it should be obvious to our students that displaying even replica guns can lead to tragedy,” Sally wrote. “This incident prompted a significant police response and caused distress for Kenilworth students and their families.”
The Kenilworth PD release says the students were “engaged in an ambush-style shooting game with each other,” and Sally’s messaged mentioned the game “Paranoia,” which usually involves juveniles ambushing each other using plastic or play gun that often are designed to look like real firearms.
Possessing any weapon, “including a replica weapon,” at New Trier High School is prohibited, Sally said.
The Winnetka Police Department released a statement about its involvement in the incident.
“Fortunately, today’s incident was a false alarm, but it is critically important that school-aged individuals be reminded that displaying toy weapons in public, especially near school property, can result in misunderstandings and have far-reaching consequences,” the message says.
Within the past year, at least two similar incidents occurred in public spaces.
In September, a juvenile wearing a mask displayed and discharged a soft-projectile gun, striking a younger child multiple times, at Dwyer Park.
The Winnetka Police Department responded on the incident, which caused parkgoers to take cover. The instigators of the incident were students within Winnetka Public Schools.
Also in September, the Wilmette Police Department responded to and investigated an incident of a child sustaining welts after being struck by projectiles from a water-pellet blaster.
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Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319