The report of a gunman at Northwestern University’s Evanston campus Wednesday was a hoax that originated from a phone call outside of the Chicago area, police said.
Evanston police Cmdr. Ryan Glew said authorities had not found any evidence of a shooting at the location reported earlier in the day. He said a phone call to the police that came from somewhere southeast of Rockford and appeared to be a “swatting” incident—where a caller attempts to illicit a SWAT response with a fake crime report.
The location, an apartment off campus, where the nonexistant shootingw as reported, had been vacant since before November, Glew said.
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Before the revelation that the whole ordeal was a hoax, Northwestern said a suspect was in the Engelhart graduate residence hall at the corner of Emerson Street and Maple Avenue. Police said there was a report of a gunman and shots fired but that no evidence of such an incident was ever found.
"Large police presence in the area of Emerson and Maple remains," police tweeted at 3:07 p.m. "Streets remained closed. Avoid the area."
"We can secure the area, investigate it and see if it’s a hoax all at the same time," Glew said after the incident.
The university sent out a tweet around 2:40 p.m. alerting people to stay away from the premises and seek shelter until further notice. Chicago police were aware of the incident.
Northwestern University police and neighboring suburban departments were were also on the scene.