The Highland Park High School has installed a weapons detection system after a student was fatally shot near campus last weekend and a student brought a gun to the school in April.
The Township High School District 113 board voted last week to approve an initial rollout of a weapons detection system at Deerfield and Highland Park high schools starting in the new school year.
The vote came after a nearly two-hour presentation by District 113 Superintendent Dr. Bruce Law.
Additional safety items in the district’s safety plan were also voted on and passed by the board during its meeting.
Law said that 77% of parents, students and staff surveyed in May were in favor of implementing a weapons detection system.
The group Parents for Securing Our Schools (Parents SOS) said they believe the new system will prevent another incident like the one that occurred on April 4.
Law said at the time that the district received an anonymous tip reporting a rumor of a student in possession of a gun on the morning of April 4.
Highland Park High School reported the tip to law enforcement after receiving it.
The school began investigating the tip when additional students came forward to report seeing a student with a gun, Law said.
The Highland Park Police Department was already on the scene and advised school officials to go into lockdown.
“When police advised going into lockdown to facilitate their investigation, our faculty and staff sprang into action to assist students. Students remained calm. Parents and guardians, understandably anxious for the all-clear, waited patiently for a safe resolution,” Law said.
The student with the gun was identified and security footage showed that he and another student had left the building, Law said.
Law enforcement conducted a sweep of the building while other police officers searched for the two students who had left the school.
Two students were arrested by police officers on the corner of Washington Avenue and Green Bay Road in Highwood, a source told Lake and McHenry County Scanner.
Three additional students were also taken into custody. A gun was recovered from one of the students who left the school.
The Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS) Emergency Services Team was dispatched to the school to assist in clearing the building.
Police cleared the school and evacuated the students after the lockdown was lifted. Students were dismissed home early for the day.
One of the students, a juvenile, was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and disorderly conduct. The other four were released from custody after being questioned.
The Parent SOS group said they are grateful the board listened to the community following the incident.
“We are grateful that the board listened to the community, and as a group of concerned parents, we stand ready and willing to work with the board and with D113’s new security director, whose hiring was also confirmed on August 8th, to quickly implement the new WDS at both high schools,” the group said in a statement.
On Sunday, officers responding to a call of shots fired in the 2300 block of Green Bay Road in Highland Park found a Highland Park High School student who had been shot.
Omar Diaz, 16, of Highwood, was bleeding on the ground in front of a home after being shot multiple times.
Diaz was transported by ambulance to Highland Park Hospital and pronounced dead.
Estiven Sarminento, 16, of Highland Park, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting.
City officials said they extend their “deepest condolences to the family and friends of Omar Diaz.” Diaz was a student at Highland Park High School.
“No family should experience the heartbreak of the loss of a child in such a senseless manner. The City also stands in solidarity with the students and staff of Highland Park High School and North Shore School District 112 in supporting each other as caring and resilient school communities,” the city said in a statement.
The new weapons detection system’s rollout was expedited following the shooting over the weekend.
District 113 students began their first day of school Wednesday following summer break.
The weapons detection system is currently at one entrance of Highland Park High School and could be added to the rest of the entrances at a later time.
Deerfield High School will soon roll out the system at its building following the rollout at Highland Park High School.