In wake of Zion shooting, District 127 requests 'visible' police presence

Social media threats after Zion shooting prompt request in Grayslake

  • A makeshift memorial is set up at Galilee Avenue and 24th Street in Zion for Justus Howell, 17, of Waukegan, who authorities said was shot twice by a police officer April 4 and later died.

      A makeshift memorial is set up at Galilee Avenue and 24th Street in Zion for Justus Howell, 17, of Waukegan, who authorities said was shot twice by a police officer April 4 and later died. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/9/2015 8:19 PM

Grayslake High School District 127 officials requested "a visible police presence" this week in response to social media threats made after last weekend's fatal shooting of a teenager by police in Zion, school and police officials confirmed.

In a letter sent home to parents Wednesday, District 127 officials said they "requested a visible police presence throughout the week" due to "the tragic fatality of a Waukegan student in the Zion area Saturday afternoon and related concerns."

 

Grayslake District 127 Associate Superintendent Renee Zoladz would not discuss the threats but said no violence has taken place.

"Safety of students and staff is a priority for us," Zoladz said. "Whenever we hear of something like this, we proactively request additional police presence to ensure the safety of everyone."

Grayslake Police Chief Phil Perlini said via email that extra parols were stationed Wednesday at Grayslake North in response to the threats, which were not specific. No problems were reported, he said.

Perlini said no patrols were added Thursday, but the full-time school resource officers were on duty at Grayslake North and Grayslake Central high schools.

Justus Howell, 17, of Waukegan was fatally wounded by an unidentified Zion police officer April 4. Howell, who attended Waukegan High School District 60's Lakeshore Academy, was shot twice in the back, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd has said.

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The officer who shot Howell is a nine-year veteran who has been placed on administrative leave, authorities have said.

Police have said Howell was involved in a scuffle while trying to steal a handgun during a street sale. Authorities said Tramond Peet, 18, of Lindenhurst intended to sell a gun to Howell near Gilead Avenue in Zion. During the exchange, a fight broke out between Howell and Peet, and a shot was fired, police said.

A neighbor who heard the gunshot and witnessed the fighting called police, authorities said. When officers arrived on the scene, Howell ran and was shot sometime later.

Zoladz confirmed Peet, who was arrested on weapons charges in the case, is a student at Grayslake North but said she could not provide additional details.

Perlini said relatives of Howell also attend Grayslake North.

Peet has been charged with two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and is in Lake County jail on $15,000 bail.

The Lake County Major Crimes Task Force is investigating the shooting and will send its findings to the Lake County state's attorney's office. Task force Cmdr. George Filenko said the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit is not investigating the shooting, despite reports from other media outlets.

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