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Police have yet to make arrests in any of the shootings that took place in West Evanston and on Howard Street in November and December 2012, though Chief of Police Richard Eddington told the RoundTable that the department has identified “persons of interest” in all four shootings, two of which resulted in fatalities.
Family members of two of the victims have recently appeared at a Jan. 7 Human Services Committee meeting and a Jan. 14 City Council meeting to express anger over the characterization of the shootings as being related to a “family feud.” They also expressed concerns about citizen safety, the pace of the investigations, and a lack of communication between the City/Police Department and the victims’ families.
Carolyn Murray, the mother of Justin Murray who was shot and killed on Nov. 29, told the Human Services Committee that the violence was not family- or gang-related. “Personally, I am getting a little perturbed by the fact that every time I look in an article I see ‘gang-related,’ ‘family-related.’ I don’t know these people. … I am not related to them. … I’m not in a gang. My son just came from California. He was not even in town four hours [before he was shot].”
John Bamberg Sr. is the father of John Bamberg Jr. who was acquitted on Nov. 30 of the murder of Marcus Davis, and he is also the father of Javar Bamberg who was shot and killed on Dec.12. He told the Human Services Committee that his family was “highly offended” with the police department’s characterization of the shootings as a family feud as well as its suggestions of gang activity. “Our families are not at war with one another,” he said.
At the Human Services Committee meeting, Chief Eddington said, “I am concerned and sorry for the families that have lost members. As to the concerns about the situation between several groups of individuals, some of them are related, some of them not.”
At both the Human Services Committee and the City Council meetings, Mr. Bamberg Sr. demanded an investigation of the Evanston Police Department. He cited issues regarding the prosecution of his son John Bamberg Jr., saying John Jr. should never have been arrested in the first place. He further criticized the investigation into the death of his son Javar, saying the police barely talked to him or his family to gather information. “Please do something about this,” he said.
Chief Eddington told the Human Services Committee that Evanston has a “very open process. … How we investigate complaints, how the police conduct investigations is reviewed, and the citizen panels that review them are on display for everyone to see.” He said, “I invite that scrutiny.”
Also at that meeting, Ms. Murray focused on safety on the streets. “Openly, I want to say that it hurts me to speak publicly tonight as it pertains to what I consider to be a basic human right: to be safe in the town and community you live in.” If the police cannot protect the community against “young street thugs, unorganized, uneducated, unemployed,” she said, then how can they expect to protect the community against a more organized threat such as terrorists?
Ms. Murray told City Council that the City needs “a strategic plan to combat the violence in this town.” She warned, “Violence increases when the weather gets warm.”
Chief Eddington told the RoundTable that investigators “have a pretty good idea what happened,” but that he was not ready to disclose specifics yet because doing so would risk “compromising ongoing investigations.”
Physical evidence has been recovered at three locations. The “no-snitch” culture and the complexity of homicide cases make building a case take time, he said, but he expects to eventually clear all of the cases.
Editor’s Note: The RoundTable in these pages has not said there is a “family feud,” it has not identified any families as being part of a family feud, it has not identified any family or person as being responsible for the recent shootings, and it has not identified any person as being a person of interest. As of today, no one has been charged with the shootings. No one has been convicted of the shootings. The public is reminded that all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.