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Two Bombs, Decapitated Body Found Near Nichols Middle School - Investigation Continues

The school will be closed Wednesday.

UPDATE 2:42 p.m.:

Evanston Police Commander Tom Guenther said at a brief press conference that Nichols Middle School will likely be closed tomorrow due to an ongoing investigation and out of a concern for student safety.  He did not comment on whether or not the school was considered a target for two pipe bombs that detonated early this morning.

"We take this extremely seriously and that's why at this point investigation continues," he said, "and it not only involves the Evanston Police Department but also the county and the FBI."

Guenther confirmed that the man who died in the first explosion lived on the 1000 block of Main Street, which was blocked off earlier today.  He said an investigation into the apartment is ongoing and the man's computer will be searched for clues about a possible motive.

The man was "known by" another police department, Guenther said, but he declined to comment on his police record or how he was known to the other department. He said that officials in Evanston are working with that police department on the case.

UPDATE 12:39 p.m.:

Fourth Ward Alderman Donald Wilson, who went to Fitzsimmons Park shortly after the first device detonated early this morning, described it as a "very disturbing scene and situation."

Wilson said he saw the body but declined to comment on it.

"I could describe it but I'm not going to," he said. "It was a very disturbing scene."

He said he remained near the park this morning to assist families and children who were heading to school.  He commended the school district response, and said they did a good job alerting families of the situation.

"They did probably the best that could have been done under the circumstances, given the timing," Wilson said.  "The people in the neighborhood, parents, teachers at the school, the police department, everyone really pulled together to make this not disruptive for the kids as possible."

UPDATE 10:50 a.m.:

The forensics team is now on the scene.

UPDATE:

Evanston Police Commander Tom Guenther provided the following details at a press conference near the scene at about 9:50 this morning:

-At 3:56 a.m. residents in the area reported hearing a large explosion. Police searched the scene but did not find any device.

-At 5:48 a.m. an individual walking a dog at Fitzsimmons Park reported seeing a decapitated male body.  Next to the body was a possible explosive device.

-The Cook County Bomb Squad was called to the scene and went door-to-door securing the area

-The bomb squad detonated a second device at about 9:30 a.m.

-There were two bombs total, one that killed the man early this morning and one that the bomb squad detonated later on.

-Those who live near the school are still not being allowed back to their homes at this time. The bomb squad will determine when it is is safe.

Earlier this morning, the Chicago Breaking News Center interviewed people at the scene, including Evanston Alderman Donald Wilson.

"It was pretty gruesome," Wilson told the News Center. "My impression is as a (civilian), not an investigator, it would seem as if it was some kind of suicide situation..."

Read the News Center's full story here.

**

Earlier:

A decapitated body was found outside Nichols Middle School early this morning. The school will be closed for the day.

"The only thing that I know is that at body was found outside the school," said District 65 Communications Director Pat Markham. "The streets are blocked off and we've closed Nichols school today. This happened about an hour and a half before school started."

Evanston Patch is heading to the scene now and will post updates as they happen. Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.

Boo September 14, 2010 at 07:42 PM
The fact that children went to school despite there being a decapitated body and explosives found in the area means that they were put into an unsafe situation just being in the vicinity. This is inappropriate and frankly scary. Also, I don't believe that this is a suicide situation, I believe someone meant harm to others. As I have read in other articles concerning this situation, there was enough explosive power in the first detonated bomb to shake buildings and wake occupants for several blocks. In what suicide situation would a person need two bombs with such explosive force? I think this may have been intended as a threat to the school or the neighborhood. To write it off as a suicide is naive and endangering.
Jessica Rudis (Editor) September 14, 2010 at 08:53 PM
Thanks for the comment. The police would not discuss any possible motives but we should find out soon as the investigation continues. To clarify, the report that this was a possible suicide was not verified by anyone -- it was Alderman Wilson's initial reaction after he saw the scene.
McGaw YMCA September 14, 2010 at 10:19 PM
It is confirmed that Nichols will be closed tomorrow, Wednesday, due to the continuing investigation of the tragic event of this morning. The McGaw YMCA (1000 Grove St, Evanston) will again be open to all Nichols students from 8:30 am - 6:00pm. Students will have access to the youth lobby, open gym and open swim. Students do not have to be YMCA members to come into the Y. We welcome all and hope we can support the community during this time of uncertainty. bit.ly/dA5Xcm
Cyndi Gage September 14, 2010 at 10:41 PM
Thank you YMCA for being a great Evanston neighbor! While I understand the public's need to know, I really think we should allow the police department to investigate this situation. There has been a lot of speculation, which only leads to rumors, and hinders the police department. They need to spend their time on the investigation, not keeping the public updated on the sorid details. They seem to be doing everything possible to keep the public (and students) safe while finding out what this is all about. Let them do their jobs! Yes, I'm Jane Q. Public and I want answers, but I don't want rumors. When the police figures it out, I'm 100% confident that they will let us know.

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