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Evanston confronts another shooting death

EvanstMayor Elizabeth Tisdahl right Fifth Ward Alderman Delores Holmes visit 1800 block Brown Street scene Thursday homicide. I David Banks~Sun-Times

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, right, and Fifth Ward Alderman Delores Holmes visit the 1800 block of Brown Street, the scene of a Thursday homicide. I David Banks~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 7, 2013 6:17AM

EVANSTON — For the second time in roughly two months, Evanston is dealing with the loss of one of its youth because of a shooting.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Alderman Delores Holmes, along with some city staff members wore grim looks Friday as they walked the 1800 block of Brown, where 19-year-old Justin Murray was shot the night before.

Evanston Police detectives and the North Regional Major Crime Task Force continue to investigate the shooting death, according to a news release sent out Friday evening.

Officers responded to several shots fired calls and discovered Murray lying on the parkway in front of 1818 Brown Ave. Evanston Fire Paramedics transported to Murray to Evanston / North Shore University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Murray was shot twice at the time of the incident and two offenders were seen peering from a nearby gangway when the shots were fired, according to the news release. Murray was in the company of several others at the time he was shot and police say the shooting is not believed to be random in nature.

“However, police are still investigating to see if the victim was the actual target or the individuals the victim was with were targeted,” police said in the news release.

On Friday, blood was still spattered on the grass across from the one-story gingerbread house where Murray was shot after reportedly visiting his grandmother. Officials called a fire department engine to the scene to wash the stain away.

Holmes, in whose Fifth Ward the block is located, and longtime community member Cherylette Hilton, exchanged a long clasp a house away from the murder spot.

“It has got to stop,’’ the alderman told Hilton.

“It has to,’’ repeated Hilton, who works with troubled youth in the court system, “but it has to start in the homes.”

The meeting was the second in just over two months. Fourteen-year-old Dajae Coleman, a promising basketball player and student, was the unintended victim of gun shots Sept. 22 on Church Street, in a shooting that rocked the community.

In meetings with residents, Holmes said, “I’m trying to get them to understand that police will do their part, but it’s time to organize. We’ve been trying to get a block club together here for a long time,” she said.

She took solace from advice one of the residents gave her.

“If you see something, say something. It’s a good motto,” she said. “I think I’m going to use that.”

Tisdahl also said that kind of effort is what the city has to build on.

“We need to go block to block to block,’’ building consensus among families and their children on what will and will not be tolerated, she said.

She said the schools remain an important factor, creating opportunities for the 29 percent of youth who do not go on to college.

In the meantime, people at the block level “have to help too,’’ she stressed.

Stacey Moraigne, a former star athlete at Evanston Township High School visited the scene to express his condolences. He suggested the efforts would have to go deeper.

“The shirt-and-tie guys, these kids are not going to listen to,” he said. “It’s impossible for me identify with you when you have got a shirt and tie on and never walked the street, never committed a crime. You have no story to tell me. We need some guys (who have) lived that lifestyle and came back and changed their lives.

“That’s what we need to grab these kids, because it’s not basketball, it’s not football. It’s a blunt and gun. That’s their livelihood.”

Meanwhile, the Evanston Township High School community is taking steps to help students deal with the loss, Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said in an email message that went out to the school community today. Murray had graduated from the school.

‘We know that some students and staff members will have a difficult time dealing with this news,” he said. “Our Student Services staff will be available in E118 throughout the school day to provide grief counseling to any student or staff member who might need it. No appointment is necessary.

“Our sympathy and thoughts are with Justin’s family,” he said.

The Evanston Police Department asks anyone with information regarding the homicide call the detective bureau at (847) 866-5040 or utilize Text-A-Tip by texting the word CRIMES (274637) and EPD Tip with text information.

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