Suspect pleads not guilty in Keg shooting

Scott Gordon

The Daily Northwestern

A 19-year-old man pleaded not guilty Aug. 22 to the charge of first-degree murder after a June shooting at The Keg of Evanston. The man turned himself in to Evanston police over the summer.

Police said they believe Antoine Hill, 19, of the 1700 block of Payne Street, pulled out a handgun and shot Robert Gresham, 22, in the chest just after 2 a.m. June 19 as a Keg employee broke up a fight between the two and one other man.

Gresham, of the 1300 block of McDaniel Avenue, was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Francis Hospital, 355 Ridge Ave.

Investigators have not confirmed a motive, but the two had fought before, said Deputy Chief Joseph Bellino of Evanston Police Department.

Both men were questioned but not charged in June after residents of the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Greenleaf Street told police the two were shooting at each other from their cars, Bellino said.

The shooting at The Keg, 810 Grove St., was “just a culmination of this dispute,” Bellino said in June. He said police don’t know how the two men knew each other or why they were fighting.

Hill did not admit to the shooting and was with his attorney when he turned himself in, Bellino said.

On the night of the shooting, bar had a “Full house,” including many Northwestern students celebrating after graduation, Bellino said in June.

Witnesses told police Gresham was shot with a handgun.

In June, half a block west of The Keg, Gresham’s mother, sister and friends set out flowers, candles, stuffed animals, a balloon printed with the words “#1 DAD,” and posters, one of which read: “Robert Dettell Gresham: Godfather, Brother, Father, Grandson, Uncle, Son, Cousin, Boyfriend.”

Gresham “was a very respectful young man,” said Michael Curry, pastor of First Church of God Christian Life Center, 1524 Simpson St., in June. “He was part of what we call ‘The Crew'” -a group of young men who attend the church regularly.”

The Keg was closed immediately following the shooting for renovations. Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton, who is also Evanston’s liquor commissioner, suspended The Keg’s liquor license for a week after the shooting. Police do not know if Hill was served drinks at the bar.

The Keg was cited in 2003 for serving alcohol to minors, and Keg patrons have been ticketed for underage drinking. But Morton said in June that she did not think The Keg had a role in the incident.

As a result of this incident, the Evanston City Council is reviewing changes to its liquor laws that would attempt to curb underage drinking.

Students returning to campus this week said incident has opened their eyes.

“I knew it was sketchy, but I didn’t know it was dangerous,” Weinberg sophomore Deanna Hope said. “You go there so often, it could just as easily have been the night you were there.”

Morton said in June that the city should raise its penalties for handgun possession, a misdemeanor under Evanston city law. It is punishable now by up to six months in jail and fines between $100 and $500.

Hill is scheduled to appear in court next on Sept. 26.

The Daily’s Laura Olson contributed to this report.

Reach Scott Gordon at [email protected]