Months before her 19-year-old son, Justin, was shot and killed in Evanston, Carolyn Murray started trying to organize a buyback program in an attempt to get guns off the streets.
Now she hopes her son’s death will bring more attention to the gun buyback, which is scheduled for Dec. 15 at Christ Temple MB Church.
“He had so much life inside of him,” she said. “He just wanted to live.”
Justin was shot two times around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, on the sidewalk in front of his grandmother’s house at 1818 Brown Ave., according to police. No suspects are in custody yet, but based on the circumstances, police say they believe the incident may have been gang-related. There are no indications that Justin was in a gang, however, according to Evanston Police Cmdr. Jason Parrott.
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Murray began trying to organize a gun buyback program this summer, as part of her role as co-chair of the West Evanston Strategic Team community group. Days after 14-year-old Dajae Coleman was shot and killed in September, she told Patch the city had finally approved her group’s idea for a gun buyback program.
At a community meeting later that week, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced that the Evanston Community Foundation had pledged funding for the program, and since then, several other local organizations have donated money.
Murray says her son, Justin, was “very funny, very happy and very giving.”
He graduated from Evanston Township High School in 2011, then moved to San Diego, where he was working part-time and attending school. He flew home Thursday to visit with a 19-year-old man that Murray raised as her son, who was on leave from the military.
“He grew up as Justin’s brother,” Murray said. “They were best friends in school.”
Justin went to Oakton School and then King Lab, according to Murray. He was “very athletic,” enjoyed working out, and played football for the Wildkits during his freshman year at Evanston Township High School. Later, he played basketball in a community league.
“He was a very warm, passionate person,” said his mother.
Justin leaves behind a 15-year-old sister and a 23-year-old brother, according to Murray.
Standing outside of the house where Justin was shot at 1818 Brown Ave. Friday morning, his cousin, Tyler Davis, 19, described Justin as “a friendly person” who loved meeting new people. Davis says he was out on the sidewalk with Justin the night he died, and narrowly missed getting shot himself.
Standing with his son, Justin’s uncle, Dexter Davis, said Justin and Tyler liked to play video games together, and that Justin loved football, specifically the Bears. He said the two young men were very close.
“When I say close, they were family, they were really close,” he said. “[Justin] was fun to be around.”
The gun buyback program Murray helped to organize is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Christ Temple Missionary Baptist Church, 1711 Simpson St. Participants may turn in up to two guns for $100 per weapon, and must bring proof of Evanston residency.
The Evanston Community Foundation has established a fund to accept residents’ contributions to the gun buyback program. Donations can be made on the Evanston Community Foundation website or by mail to Evanston Community Foundation, 1007 Church St., Ste. 108, Evanston, IL 60201.