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Public Schools Employee Fatally Shot In The Head Outside Elementary School

By Mae Rice in News on Jun 17, 2016 3:00PM

A Chicago Public Schools employee was fatally shot outside an elementary school in South Austin on Thursday. Denzel Thornton, 25, was shot at 12:30 p.m. at McNair Elementary School while getting into his parked car, authorities said.

Thornton's attacker approached on foot and shot Thornton in the head in the 4800 block of West Walton, according to police. Afterwards, the attacker fled the scene in a black sedan. Thornton was pronounced dead on the scene.

Following the shooting, the school was locked down until dismissal at 2:30 p.m., with no one allowed to enter or exit, according to the Tribune. All parents at McNair also received an automated call, or "robo call," alerting them to "an incident" at the school, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. (We've included the full script of the call below.)

Chicago Public Schools will provide crisis counseling to McNair students—many of whom, the Tribune reports, peeked out the window at Thornton's body as it was removed—and to employees at its central office, where Thornton worked.

Thornton had worked for CPS for 10 months as part of the Nutrition Services team, Claypool said in his statement. Thornton had no criminal history or known gang connections, Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy told the Tribune.

David Blackmom, program coordinator of culinary arts for CPS, told ABC Thornton was one of his favorite students and a promising one, amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships after graduating from Corliss High School in Pullman.

“On behalf of all of Chicago Public Schools, we were devastated to learn today about the tragic death of one of our employees," Claypool said. "Denzel Thornton was a member of our Nutrition Services team, and like many CPS employees, he worked hard every day to serve our children."

The script for the call McNair parents received was as follows:

“ttention McNair Families. This is an important message from Chicago Public Schools. 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. We will continue to update you as we learn more, and thank you.