Evanston police, community members discuss recent gun violence

Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington announces an increase in police presence in the west end as a result of recent gun violence. More than 100 people gathered at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center on Thursday to discuss the increase in violence.

Ciara McCarthy/The Daily Northwestern

Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington announces an increase in police presence in the west end as a result of recent gun violence. More than 100 people gathered at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center on Thursday to discuss the increase in violence.

Ciara McCarthy, Assistant City Editor

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Evanston police announced Thursday they will increase their presence in west Evanston due to recent gun violence.

More than 100 people gathered in a packed room at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St., for a routine 5th Ward meeting Thursday evening that quickly turned heated. City officials and community members discussed gun violence that has been connected to the slaying of an Evanston man in Chicago.

On May 7, the neighborhood near the community center was locked down after shots were fired at about 3:15 p.m. near the playground next to the center. Police have identified Blake Ross, who was fatally shot Sunday on the South Side of Chicago, as a potential target of the May 7 shootings.

Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington said the recent violence was part of an ongoing conflict that claimed two young lives last year.

Community members and city officials expressed outrage at the latest incident, particularly the fact that it occurred in broad daylight near a park.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she was glad the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 buses were late May 7, because had they been on time, schoolchildren might have been present for the shooting.

“Let’s choose to take care of our children and not rely on the buses being late,” Tisdahl said.

Cmdr. Jay Parrott showed surveillance footage of the shooting and walked community members through the action. The beginning of the clip showed a parent with a child in a stroller on the playground just moments before the shooters arrived.

“Everybody’s concerned about the community, and everybody needs to see the disregard for the safety of kids and adults when this took place,” Parrott said.

Eddington emphasized the necessity for community cooperation in ending the gun violence and solving gun-related crimes.

“Unless you step forward, this will continue,” he said.

Evanston Township High School student Brandi Efiom asked the police to reach out to youth in the community to increase cooperation.

“A lot of people at my school are scared of the police,” Efiom said. “But maybe if you guys were around the school and talked to some of the students … they would feel more comfortable sharing information with you.”

Eddington announced police would have a greater presence in west Evanston, which would likely result in increased incidents of stop-and-frisk. Eddington said Evanston police had avoided widespread use of stop-and-frisk in the past, but the recent violence required an increased police focus on illegal guns.

“This level of violence and this use of guns is now out of control,” he said.

The mayor and the city manager have authorized EPD’s summer plan, which calls for increased police presence, ahead of schedule. In addition, EPD will receive assistance from the Cook County Sheriff’s gang units to help solve gang problems in Evanston.

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