A Chicago Public Schools employee was shot and killed outside the elementary school where he was working on Thursday afternoon, according to Chicago Police and CPS.
Denzel Thornton, 25, was outside in the 4800 block of W Walton St in the South Austin neighborhood at around 12:30 p.m. when someone shot him in the head before fleeing, according to Chicago Police. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
The shooting occurred outside Robert McNair Elementary School, where a graduation ceremony was scheduled to take place later in the afternoon.
Thornton, of the 800 block of W Buena Ave in Buena Park, worked for Chicago Public Schools as a Compliance Specialist for Nutrition Services, according to a statement from the district. He had worked for CPS for 10 months, was based out of the district's central office, and was doing his regular rounds at McNair when the shooting occurred, officials said.
"It does not appear the school, the students, or staff was targeted or in risk at anytime," CPD Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy said in a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Roy also said Thornton had no gang ties or criminal history.
“On behalf of all of Chicago Public Schools, we were devastated to learn today about the tragic death of one of our employees," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. "Denzel Thornton was a member of our Nutrition Services team, and like many CPS employees, he worked hard every day to serve our children. Even in challenging circumstances, CPS employees are extraordinarily dedicated to the students we serve, and I have the deepest respect for their commitment and hard work. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of Denzel Thornton, and we will all keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”
Shortly after the shooting, families received an automated call saying "The Chicago Police Department is currently investigating an incident that took place outside our school today. No McNair students were injured as a result of this incident, however students may have questions or be upset by what happened. The CPS Crisis Support Team will be at school tomorrow to provide assistance to any students needing support, as well as an increased presence from CPS Safety and Security." The 8th grade graduation took place as scheduled.
No one is in custody and police continue to investigate.