Three Palatine schools, Palatine High School and Virginia Lake and Jane Addams Elementary were in a “soft lockdown” for close to two hours after a nearby resident spotted a group of teens playing with what looked to be a handgun late Wednesday morning.
A resident of the 1500 block of Winslowe Drive reported five males in their teens were playing with what appeared to be a handgun around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday. According to police, the caller said she saw the teenagers pulling the trigger and she could hear a “clicking” sound.
Police later found out the "gun" was actually a pellet gun and not a firearm.
“We notified the school immediately,” said Palatine Police Cmdr. Mike Seebacher. “That apartment complex backs right up to the Palatine High School property.”
Palatine High School went into a “soft lockdown” at about 11:30 a.m. According to police, the two nearby District 15 elementary schools, Virginia Lake and Jane Addams, followed suit. All outside doors of the schools were locked, and no one was allowed to enter or exit the buildings. Classes continued as scheduled, police said.
The lockdowns were lifted around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday after police located four of the five individuals and determined the initially reported handgun was a realistic looking pellet gun.
“While gun was not real, it looked very real,” said Seebacher.
Officers located three juveniles on PHS property around 1 p.m. Wednesday. According to police, the three teenagers, students at Palatine High School, did not have weapons on them but did admit to playing with what they referred to as a “BB gun” in the courtyard of an apartment complex on Winslowe Drive.
“They said it looked real but it wasn’t,” Seebacher said, "But we had to locate the gun to be sure."
As officers continued to investigate, the fourth individual was found near the apartment complex on Winslowe Drive. Seebacher said the juvenile did have the pellet gun in his possession and officers determined it to be a CO2-powered pellet gun.
“We always err on the side of safety,” said Seebacher, “If people say it looks like a real gun we treat it as if it’s a real gun.”
According to Seebacher, the juveniles could face charges of disorderly conduct for alarming people in the schools and neighborhood.
Police continue to search for the fifth individual, officers have the male’s name but he has not been located at this time. Seebacher said because all the individuals are all juveniles, none of their names will be released.
Seebacher said three of the four are Palatine High School students. “I don’t know about the others, they may not even go to school,” Seebacher said.
After the lockdown was lifted, Palatine High School administrators said after school activities were planned to resume as scheduled.