Evanston police collect 45 guns in buyback event
Evanston Police Officer Jeff Faison, Left, Sgt. Jason Kohl and Cmdr. Dan Russell prep turned-in guns for processing. The gun buyback event Saturday outside the Christ Missionary Baptist Church gathered 45 weapons. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
In addition to their organizational efforts and $1,000 contribution to the program, the Evanston Community Foundation has established a fund to accept residents’ contributions in support of the gun buy-back program at www.evanstonforever.org or by mail to: Evanston Community Foundation, 1007 Church St. Suite 108, Evanston, Il., 60201.
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:41PM
EVANSTON — Police collected 45 guns — 26 handguns, 15 rifles and four shotguns — Saturday at Christ Temple Missionary Baptist Church during an amnesty program paying $100 for each.
Carolyn Murray, the mother of 19-year-old Justin who was shot to death Nov. 29, dedicated the buyback program to the person who fires shots beneath her window early every morning.
“This shooter has been shooting by my window every night between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. I want to thank him for giving me a break after my son was killed, but then he started shooting again and my second cousin was murdered,” Murray said.
“The shooter usually shoots five rounds, takes a break and starts shooting again. But the night my second cousin was killed, there were only those two shots. I found out at 7 am in the morning that my cousin had been shot, and I heard the shots that killed my cousin.”
Javar Bamberg, 23, of Evanston was shot in the head about 2 a.m. Dec. 12 in an alley near the 1700 block of Grey Avenue. Justin Murray was shot about 6:15 p.m. in front of his grandmother’s home in the 1800 block of Brown Avenue while with friends.
“This is something that shouldn’t happen to anyone,” Carolyn said. “As a community, we need to work together to make sure it never happens again, and our first priority is to get our streets safe.”
Carolyn, co-chair of the West Evanston Strategic Team, has long been a community activist who has been trying to improve conditions in Evanston. In light of several recent shootings, her focus is now on guns.
“It is not going to be easy to make the streets safe, but it is necessary. Gun buybacks are only the first step. Evanston needs a makeover. This is not Mayberry.”
Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington noted that the amnesty part of the gun program should accomplish several things, most of all building credibility in the community.
“Community members will learn we have been speaking the truth and this is not a trap. So we’ll get additional turnout,” he said.
While it wasn’t gang members who turned in their guns this time, the buy-back will help dry up the supply of guns. If they are destroyed, they can’t be stolen or play a part in a family tragedy, Eddington said.
“Grandpa may have put a gun in a drawer somewhere no one else knew about, then died. If little Johnny finds it, there can be a tragedy. This will prevent that,” he said.
Also, Eddington noted that he really doesn’t expect gang members to hand over their weapons, “but I will get them from their family members,” he said.
Cmdr. Jay Parrott said police check the ID of those bringing guns, because the program is geared toward getting weapons off Evanston streets, not the streets of other communities.
“Some people don’t take care of their firearms and don’t even know where they are,” Parrot said. “They don’t keep them in a safe place like a locked gun safe. They don’t keep them unloaded and the ammunition separately. We find that these are the kind of weapons that are stolen and end up on the street.”
Parrott added that people ask police about the effectiveness of such a program.
“That is hard to tell, but how do you evaluate even one life?” he asked. “If we get one gun that could have killed someone, then the program is effective.”
Through Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl’s efforts, the Evanston Community Foundation, Northwestern University, the Cherry Family Foundation and NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) Evanston Hospital funded the program.