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Mother Grieves Son's Death, Hopes to Get Guns Off Streets

Carolyn Murray remembers her son, Justin, who was shot and killed Thursday, Nov. 29, as full of life. She hopes his death will bring more attention to a gun buyback program she started organizing months ago.

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. 

Rubygirl December 01, 2012 at 08:39 PM
RIP Justin! I'm sorry, and </3 for his family.
Valerie Tobin-Printis December 02, 2012 at 08:08 AM
Please do not throw gang related and however in the same breath and not complete the statement. DON'T ASSUME ANYTHING BEFORE PRINTING WITHOUT CONCRETE EVIDENCE...
Valerie Tobin-Printis December 02, 2012 at 08:11 AM
Justin we love you. R.I.P baby
Petra Guy December 02, 2012 at 03:06 PM
This was another tragedy where an innocent young man was gunned down, but as usual some sort of gang relation has to be brought into the story. NOT all of our African/American young men are involved in gang activities! My heart goes out to this family and I pray that the Evanston Police will do a better job in the future. Stop harassing young Blacks because they look suspicious and catch the real bad guys!
Jennifer Fisher (Editor) December 03, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Valerie, thanks for reading. What statement were you looking to be completed? When I asked Evanston Police Cmdr. Parrott whether the incident (not any of the specific individuals involved, but the incident as a whole) might be related to gang activity, this is what he said: "We do believe there’s indicators that it has ties to gang involvement, but there’s no indicators that the victim, specifically, is a gang member. That information’s based on the way the incident happened and the company of the suspects that the victim is with."
Jennifer Fisher (Editor) December 03, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Petra, you're absolutely right that not all African-American young men are involved in gang activities. I brought the issue of gangs into the story because Evanston Police Cmdr. Parrott told me that they believe that some of the people involved in this tragedy had gang ties.
Ashley December 11, 2012 at 04:06 PM
LOVE U JUSTIN FOREVER & ALWAYS.
Anon December 12, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Maybe check out @JGuy_1715 on twitter... he seems to be very into promoting #DBlock. But maybe that's just a community organization, not some sort of gang around Dodge and Lyons. J_Guy also writes: "Who tf' tryna stop the violence? We tryna promote this shit" So yeah, not all AA young men are involved in gang activities. But some are, and some of those blast it on twitter.
Lonson Williams December 15, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Petra, why are you talking about "African American young men"? The article didn't bring up race and there is nothing to suggest that the incident had anything to do with the victim's race. The gun buyback idea is stupid==there is no indication that these efforts have any impact on reducing violence. If people want to deal with the violence, the cops need to lock up the animals who are doing the crimes. They can only do that if people with information come forward. If you know what happened and don't come forward you have blood on you hands.
Chanelle December 16, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Since your so busy on Jguy_1715 twitter acct, you should have been able to notice that comment "Who tf' tryna stop the violence? We tryna promote this shit" was retweeted!!! On dat note have a nice evening, no need to b Anonymous J Guy's Mother .............
Chanelle December 16, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Since your so busy on Jguy_1715 twitter acct, you should have been able to notice that comment "Who tf' tryna stop the violence? We tryna promote this shit" was retweeted!!! On dat note have a nice evening, no need to b Anonymous J Guy's Mother ...........And may God bless n heal all the families that are suffering right now <3
Casey December 17, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Well if it was retweeted then doesn't that mean he agress with the statement?

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