The reaction to “shots fired” in the 1200 block of Darrow Avenue in early December was unified and responsive to the situation: Nearby residents convened a meeting with the alderman, the police chief and the beat officer, asking for details and what they could do.
Neighbors keep in close touch there by means of an online list serve that carries neighborhood updates such as ward meetings and reminders from the beat cop to keep garages and windows locked, requests to patronize local businesses, animal information such as pets lost, found, loose or stray, local art events, barter options like trading cookies for help with a porch, and things for sale, rent or free for the taking. The first notification on the list serve said four shots had been fired; shortly afterward the number was updated by another neighbor, saying the number of shots had been six.
About 25 residents attended a meeting on Dec. 3 at Curt’s Café South with Police Chief Richard Eddington, Police Officer Reggie Napier and Second Ward Aldermen Peter Braithwaite. Chief Eddington handed out copies of a sheet that that carried the crime report and photos of two persons questioned about the incident, and then gave the residents what he termed “criminal intelligence – not fact.”
Six shots were fired at a car that drove north in the 1200 block of Darrow Avenue then turned around at the cul-de-sac at the alley just south of Dempster Street. The car, a red 2013 Nissan with tinted windows, was found abandoned later at the Burger King lot on Dempster Street. No bullet holes were found in the car.
Chief Eddington said he believes the shot-fired incident has no connection to other violence in the area. “I am relatively certain this was a random event involving these two people. … Whatever transpired had to do with these two men.”
The two men questioned about the incident were both tested for gunshot residue, but the results were negative, Chief Eddington said. The driver of the red Nissan is not a resident of Evanston but was likely on the block because that is where his girlfriend lives. Several residents said they were familiar with the car. “The car is always parked [in front of the house] illegally,” one resident said.
Conversation among residents helped distinguish the red color of the car.
“What color of red?”
Chief Eddington declined to give the address of the house where the girlfriend lived and did not give the name of the landlord. More than one resident, however, said they knew the address. One resident said she knew the landlord and had called him from time to time about problems with the tenants there before – loud music and partying – but things had become worse with these tenants. She and others said they would get in touch with the landlord.
Several residents asked what their next steps would be. Chief Eddington said that four spent shell casings and two live ones had been found in the area. He said that since no bullet holes had been found in the car, residents should look for bullets or other damage on their own property.
The live bullets posed no danger to the neighborhood, he said. They will be tested for fingerprints and for DNA, substances that the heat removes from fired shells.
Chief Eddington also encouraged the neighbors to be vigilant and to call police if there are suspicious activities.
“If you see something, call us. If these individuals are engaged in antisocial activities, they won’t do it where police are around,” Chief Eddington said.
If the car is parked illegally or if people not known to the neighbors are seen loitering, Chief Eddington said, residents can report those activities to the police.
“This is a very tight, safe neighborhood,” said Ald. Braithwaite. He urged the residents to “look for patterns” of behavior. “Get to know your neighbors and call Officer Napier” as necessary.
Chief Eddington collected the email addresses of the residents and said he would keep residents apprised of developments in the case through a group email.