The Evanston Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office have announced the arrest of Wesley A. Woodson III of Evanston in connection with the homicide of Dajae Coleman.  Mr. Woodson has been charged with two counts of  first-degree murder and seven counts of aggravated discharge of firearm.  My thanks to the Evanston Police, the North Regional Major Crimes Task Force and the State’s Attorney’s Office for their fine work in apprehending and bringing charges against Dajae’s alleged killer.

All of us in the City of Evanston also grieve with the family of Northwestern University student Harsha Maddula, who was found dead in Wilmette Harbor after he had gone missing for several days.  It is such a tragedy to lose these two young men in such a short period of time.

These past two weeks have been a difficult one for all of us in Evanston.  Dajae’s killing shocked his friends, family and our entire community.  Dajae was doing everything right with his life; his successes showed a promise we hope for all young men and women in Evanston.  However, this bright promise for all Evanston youth remains endangered by senseless acts of violence and easy access to guns.

As a community, we have worked together to make Evanston a safer place.  Overall crime has decreased in recent years, but remains an issue in our community.  The City, our schools and community organizations are providing more recreation and job programs for youth than ever before.  More than 8,000 Evanston youth were involved in City employment or recreation programs this past summer.

But more needs to be done.  And will be done.

We have too many guns in this community.  We must work to get guns off the street through buy-back programs and other means until local jurisdictions have the authority to enact real gun control legislation.  We know what it takes to engage youth in meaningful activities, but we must do more of it and we need more Evanston residents and businesses partnering with us.

A community meeting was held on Oct. 2 at the Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center to bring together community members to discuss how we can bring more resources to our efforts to protect and engage our youth.

Four-hundred-fifty Evanston residents joined me there.

Evanston is a special place; it is a wonderful community to raise a family, go to school or run a business.  The people who live in this city are talented, caring individuals.  Evanston will move forward from these difficult times stronger and safer as we bring together the multiple talents and resources of our community to ensure the same bright promise of Dajae Coleman for all youth in Evanston.