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UPDATE: Police rule pipe bomb death a suicide

Evanston police have concluded that Colin Dalebroux — the 21-year-old who died Sept. 14 in a pipe bomb explosion at Fitzsimons Park — intended to commit suicide.

He left a note on his computer outlining that plan, investigators said Wednesday.

And although investigators are also now revealing that Dalebroux carried a pellet gun, they say nearby Nichols Middle School was not a target of the troubled young man.

The department issued a statement on District 65’s Web site saying that forensic analysis of Dalebroux’s computer indicated he visited Web sites to gain knowledge on how to build pipe bombs. That analysis also found a document written by Dalebroux in which he outlined his desire to commit suicide, the statement says.

Police say that forensic analysis of Dalebroux’s body showed the device did not detonate prematurely and that he initiated the explosion.

“The location and time where Mr. Dalebroux chose to explode the device indicates cognitive forethought,” the statement said. “Mr. Dalebroux chose not to set this device off at his residence, a multi-unit residential structure where others would have been in direct danger.”

Evanston resident Dale Wyatt, who made the gruesome discovery while walking his dog, found Dalebroux’s headless body early that morning.

Two hours before his body was found, residents reported hearing a loud explosion they thought was a blown transformer. Police called to the area didn’t find anything unusual.

Wyatt phoned police at about 5:48 that morning. By 8 a.m., District 65 officials scrambled to notify parents that school had been closed due to the incident. Meanwhile, police cordoned off the area and sought assistance from the Cook County sheriff’s bomb squad in disabling a second, unexploded pipe bomb near the body.

Later that day, investigators turned their attention to Dalebroux’s residence a few blocks from Fitzsimons Park. There, they found his computer, which was turned over to the FBI for analysis.

Police say that Dalebroux’s previous documented reports of suicide also show his desire to end his life.

Dalebroux’s family could not be reached for comment about the police investigators’ conclusion. But relatives released a statement shortly after the death, saying Delabroux suffered from a 15-year-battle with depression. They Madison, Wis., family members said they were convinced Delebroux intended to kill himself without harming others.

Police concluded that because Dalebroux chose to detonate the pipe bomb at 3:53 a.m., he intended to, “guard against unintended injury to others.”

“While Nichols Middle School was in close proximity to Fitzsimons Park, this investigation has not produced information indicating Nichols School was a target of any intended violence,” according to the police statement.

Parent reactions to the explosion were mixed, with some saying they were apprehensive about bringing their children back to school two days after the incident and with unanswered questions still lingering at the time.

Other parents said they were relieved that there appeared to be no threat to the school or its students.

“[The police conclusion] certainly confirms the sense that there’s no ongoing threat,” said Carla Willis, mother of a sixth grader at Nichols.

Evanston alderman Donald Wilson, who has children at Nichols, said he was satisfied with the investigation and its conclusion.

“Of course it was a very sad and tragic situation,” he said. “For those who know people who have had to deal with depression or suicide, it’s very difficult to understand. A lot of times, there just aren’t any readily available answers.”

District officials expressed appreciation of police and FBI personnel in their investigation.

“For those of us dedicated to the safety and security of our students, their findings are especially reassuring,” said district Superintendent Hardy Murphy.

“This incident and its aftermath illustrate how fragile the normal routines of daily life are in our communities in this time of heightened awareness for safety and security,” Murphy added.

Although police initially denied reports of a gun found at the scene, they now say a pellet gun was recovered from Dalebroux’s backpack at the scene. Investigators think he might have brought the pellet gun to force police to shoot him if confronted before he was able to explode the bomb.

Dalebroux’s high school friends in Madison, Wis., remembered him as a lively, friendly young man whose smile hid mental health issues that sometimes forced him to leave school.

“He would be gone for some periods of time,” said classmate Cynthia Lattimore, 20. “He did talk about wanting to hurt himself and said he was getting help. I actually thought he got better after we got out of high school.”

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