Owner of Northwest Side music school where teen intern was shot says staff were ‘heroes’

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CHICAGO —His school was shut down after a police-involved shooting left a suspect dead and one of his teenage interns seriously injured last month.

UpBeat Music and Arts in the Old Irving Park neighborhood reopened this week. The executive director and founder Scott Barbeau said students and teachers are learning a lot about trauma and healing.

A Des Plaines police officer chased a Bank of America robbery suspect into Chicago on November 19. The chase entered into UpBeat Music and Arts school, at 4318 W Irving Park Rd, where Rylan Wilder, 15, was working as an intern.

Barbeau had just left when the shooting happened. But he says the teachers who were at the store acted with incredible courage and clarity.

“We have a buzzer system for security and the buzzer had just been hit, an adult was coming in and the suspect came right in behind that person,” Barbeau said.

Police said the suspect shot and wounded a Chicago police officer and then ran into the music school where a Des Plaines officer shot and killed him. That officer likely shot Wilder by accident.

Barbeau said students ages 7-14 were taking lessons at the time and there were five teachers inside.

“They are heroes,” Barbeau said. “And did not hesitate to act, covering students with their bodies, pulling tables over them taking them into practice rooms. And just sheltering the students and then getting them led outside the building to safety next door.  It happened very fast.”

Barbeau said surveillance video of the shooting has been turned over to authorities.

Last week, Wilder’s family sued the second bank robbery suspect and was granted access to evidence from the scene.

“He’s an amazing kid,” Barbeau said of Wilder. “He’s smart and he’s funny and a great guitar player and songwriter.”

For now, Barbeau said the school community is focused on Wilder’s recovery and remaining upbeat about the future.

“Anything could have happened with that kind of danger and random senseless incidents like this,” he said. “We’re very grateful that he’s healing.”

Barbeau said he’s hopeful Wilder will be released from the hospital in the next few days. The teen suffered extensive damage to his arm.

The school has set up a GoFundMe page to help restore the school.

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