Police, firefighters and paramedics from Zion responded about 9:17 p.m. Tuesday, January 31, 2023 to a report of shots fired at Zion-Benton High, 3901 West 21st Street in Zion. The shots were fired outside in a parking lot immediately following a varsity basketball game involving Zion-Benton vs. Waukegan.
Police determined by about 9:23 p.m. that it was likely no people were shot. Police were already on patrol near the high school, but the offender or offenders fled before police arrived. By 9:41 p.m. police determined the scene was secure, and firefighters and paramedics moved up to the scene. Police requested paramedics at the south side of the high school building at the furthest east doors for a person that reported being injured from being trampled.
Several witness were close to the shooter, when he unexpectedly appeared, and started shooting. The shots were fired after the varsity basketball game when people were leaving the school building. When the shots were fired, many people in the crowd sprinted back into the building, looking for a place to hide.
Zion Police Department requested assistance from nearby law enforcement agencies due to the number of people present at the high school. The shots fired incident required assistance from additional law enforcement officers to help secure the scene, help the crowd, check leads, and restore order. The students and parents were initially afraid that an active shooter situation was unfolding, and sprinted away from the direction of the gunshots.
Police released a statement by 10:16 p.m. Tuesday, assuring people that there was no active shooter situation ongoing at the high school. Police confirmed that they found two cars damaged. A witness reported seeing the back window of a vehicle shot out. Detectives were assigned to the scene to assist police officers with the shots fired investigation, according to the Zion Police Department.
The school district referred to the shots fired call as “an incident” in a statement to students and parents, announcing that classes would resume Wednesday. The day would begin on “Code Yellow” status. There was no mention in the official school district statement that shots were fired, or that there was an investigation that shots were fired.
“D126: Please be aware that an incident took place in the ZBTHS parking lot this evening. There is no immediate threat and no injuries were reported. We are currently working with appropriate authorities as the safety of all participants is our top priority.
As a follow up to an earlier email regarding an incident that took place in the ZBTHS parking lot this evening, please be aware that classes will resume as normal tomorrow. We will continue to work with appropriate authorities. As a precautionary measure we will have an increased police presence, start our day on code yellow, and ensure emotional support services for students and staff. As always, we take all matters seriously as the safety of our school community is our top priority.”
The Zion Police Department did not release a description of the vehicle or the suspect, but witnesses reported that a male teen about 15 or 16 years-old, wearing a hoodie, jumped out of an older model silver 4-door sedan. He was armed with a gun with an extended clip, and started shooting.
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