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Mom’s non-violent efforts continue

Carolyn Murray EvanstJames Copel(right) listen choir sing during memorial service for her sJustMurray 19 Faith Temple Church EvanstSaturda.  Justin's

Carolyn Murray of Evanston and James Copeland (right) listen to the choir sing during a memorial service for her son Justin Murray, 19, at Faith Temple Church in Evanston on Saturda. Justin's grandmother Wilma Dykes (left), Justin's brother Phillip Murray (second from left) and Michael Page are also sitting with them. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media

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Justin Michael Murray was preceded by his grandfathers Eugene, Dykes, Sr., and James Murray, Sr., in death.

Survivors include his mother Carolyn Lolita Murray; father James Phillip Murray, Jr., a brother, Phillip Kyle Murray; sister, Ashton Loryn Murray; a special friend, James Copeland; and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

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Updated: January 14, 2013 6:59AM

EVANSTON — When Carolyn Murray was putting together the details of a community gun buy-back program, her son Justin, 19, often offered tips, as he did in his mother’s efforts in other community projects.

With Justin gone — the victim of a fatal shooting Nov. 29 — his mother is resolute that such efforts go forward.

“Justin was aligned with the efforts and programs I had planned so far,” she said Tuesday. “I just want to keep in the forefront of non-violent (solutions) and not act in any forms of retaliation from the family.”

Police have speculated that the shooting outside Justin Murray’s grandmother’s house on the 1800 block of Brown Avenue was an outgrowth of a long-standing feud between Evanston families.

That shooting, as well as another that followed Dec. 8, in which a 20-year-old Evanston man was badly injured, may have been retaliatory in nature, police said.

Carolyn Murray, a Navy reservist who is active in community affairs as co-chair of the West Evanston Strategic Team, said she intends to be present at the community gun buy-back program to be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Christ Temple Missionary Baptist Church, 1711 Simpson St., in Evanston.

Those responsible for the violence taking place as a means of resolving the conflict are not representing her nor Justin’s name, she said.

‘He wanted to move on’

Since the news of Justin’s shooting, Murray said she is shocked at the support she has received, both at last weekend’s funeral at Faith Temple Church, and through cards.

“I got a lot of cards from people I didn’t know,” the grateful mother said. “They said, ‘I don’t know you but I heard about the work you are doing.’

“That really brought it full circle again.”

With his mother’s blessing, Justin, had moved to San Diego last summer to be with relatives. He had hoped to go to school, and pursue a career, she said.

“He had just graduated from high school and he wanted to move on,” Carolyn Murray said, totally supportive. “It sounded like a good plan.”

She said her son’s caring spirit dated back to his grade school days. In sixth grade at King Lab School, the youngster, active in a number of sports, returned home from school one day and told his mother, the team lacked a basketball coach.

He said, “Mom can’t you coach the team?”

As coach, the team won all its games but one, which she missed because of time in the hospital.

“I keep saying we were undefeated,” she said, brightening at the memory.

In the seventh-grade, he brought home a student with him one day – Michael Paige.

“Justin was his best friend,” she said.

The two, Justin, big for his age, and Michael, more compact and from a biracial background, were a familiar sight in the hall. Michael, who today is enlisted officer in the Air Force, became a full-fledged family member.

Longtime King Lab teacher Patrice Payton recalled Justin having “a smile that would light up a room.”

She also remembers a work-study program at the school where Justin was in demand by teachers as the student “who would give up every recess.”

‘No reason for me to be here’

Carolyn Murray said her son was suspended his senior year at Evanston Township High School, after confronting another student who threatened to do violence to his grandmother’s house. Murray said her son, good-hearted and respectful, sometimes found himself in a bind.

The middle class block on Brown Avenue where she had grown up, “had become a hot sort for crime and violent activities,” she said.

At the same time, “I had raised a son (and family) with a such a sense of family that they couldn’t break out,’’ she said. “The need to reach out to families sometimes got them in situations not good for them.”

Her son seemed to start finding some distance at North Shore Academy in Highland Park, where he finished out his senior year after the suspension.

Orlando Clemmons, a teacher at the school, remembered Justin as “an uncommon kid,” and a thoughtful person with a winning smile. The two would sometimes have long conversations about what Justin was dealing with in Evanston, Clemmons recalled.

In one of their last, Justin mentioned the possibility of moving to San Diego, surprising Clemmons.

“He said, ‘You know, there is no reason for me to be here,’” recalled Clemmons. “I was kind of surprised he came to that realization.” ~.

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