On the same day that walkouts have come out throughout the country demanding stricter gun laws and promoting school safety a month after the Parkside shooting, reports came out of an active shooter at Northwestern University, as announced on the school’s social media account. Students were told to stay in place by police while the school, and at least one other local high school, was placed on lockdown. Police later explained that they had been alerted to the school after an unidentified student claimed to have shot his girlfriend during a phone call.
The school issued the following statement on its Twitter account:
“There is a report of a person with a gun in Engelhart Hall at the corner of Emerson Street and Maple Avenue. Evanston and Northwestern University police are on the scene. Seek shelter if in the area.”
“Police continue to investigate a reported incident at Engelhart Hall. Remain sheltered or avoid the area.”
“NUPD responding to Evanston campus emergency. Remain in safe place. If not on campus, stay away. More info will be provided when available.”
Evanston police also issued the following statement on Twitter:
“Evanston and NUPD in the area of Emerson and Maple. Report of gunman and shots fired in a residential building. Area checked no evidence of a victim, scene, or gunman found.”
Due to a lack of evidence, police now believe the incident was a ‘hoax’
According to The Chicago Tribune, police responded to reports of shots fired, only to find no evidence of a “victim, scene or gunman” during their initial investigation; the lack of evidence caused initial speculation that the incident was a hoax.
Evanston police Cmdr. Ryan Glew later revealed that police were alerted to the school after an unidentified person claimed to have shot his girlfriend; after struggling to find evidence, Glew suggested that the whole incident could have been a hoax. According to Chicago Tribune, he issued the following statement:
“That could be a possibility that we are also investigating…We’re still treating this as an active investigation.”
According to Chicago Sun News, police have officially called the incident a “hoax.” According to ABC News, the incident was directly dubbed a “swatting incident,” suggesting that it was a prank call directed towards the school.
On Twitter, Evanston police officially classified the incident as a “swatting incident,” adding that there were no people hurt or that people at the school were in any danger:
“The incident at Emerson and Maple was swatting incident. No victims or danger to the public. Area is secure. Police and Fire are clearing the area.”