Less than 24 hours after 19-year-old Justin Murray was fatally shot in the 1800 block of Brown Avenue, neighbors warily left their homes while friends and family members went to pay their respects at No. 1818, where police say Murray had recently moved in with his grandmother.
Murray’s cousin, 19-year-old Tyler Davis, was visibly shaken as he stood outside his the house Friday morning, recalling the incident. Davis said he and Murray had just left his grandmother's house and walked out to the sidewalk to go to the store when a gunman opened fire. The shots narrowly missed his body as they struck his cousin.
“I was right here walking,” Davis said, pointing to the curb in front of 1818 Brown Ave., “when somebody came out from between the houses and started shooting.”
As of Friday morning, police were still investigating the shooting, which took place around 6:15 p.m. Thursday, according to Evanston Police Cmdr. Jason Parrott. There were no suspects in custody as of early Friday afternoon.
Davis said his cousin had just returned on Thursday from a trip to visit family in San Diego, CA. He said Murray grew up in his grandmother’s home on Brown Avenue in Evanston, graduated from Evanston Township High School in 2011, and hoped to join the military.
“He was just a friendly person, loved meeting new people,” Davis said.
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Neighbors said they were terrified by how close the gunfire had been to their homes, especially given how many young children live on the block. Michelle Malin, who lives a few houses down, said her young daughter had asked to go outside to play just before the gunman opened fire. She had told her daughter to wait a minute for dinner, and not long afterward, she heard shots so loud that she dropped her coffee cup and broke it.
"We love the neighborhood and we love the neighbors and this his horribly tragic," Malin said. She said she and her neighbors were still trying to figure out how to explain to their kids what had happened.
"In the big picture, there's kids, a bunch of scared little kids," she said.
Dexter Davis, Murray’s uncle, said his son Tyler and his nephew liked to play video games together, and that Murray loved football, specifically the Bears.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Ald. Delores Holmes and other city officials were also out on Brown Avenue Friday morning, knocking on neighbor’s doors.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Tisdahl said. She said she and other city officials had already gone to express their condolences to Murray’s family.
Ald. Holmes, who represents the fifth ward where the shooting took place, said she knew Murray’s family personally.
“It’s just senseless,” Holmes said.
Also coming to pay their respects were Pastor Richard Young of New Christian Life Ministries and Stacey Moragne, who said he knew the family.
“We’re just coming in support of the family and to promote peace and life,” Young said. “What has happened now is that violence has become commonplace and the culture needs to be changed.”
Moragne stressed that he and Young were “not picking sides.”
“We’re just concerned about everybody,” Moragne said. “It’s an ongoing saga with these young people. Nobody’s willing to surrender.”
Asked to elaborate what he meant, Moragne simply said, “just life, in general. With these young guys, it’s a dog eat dog world.”
A neighbor who asked to remain anonymous said she walked outside shortly after she heard the shots and saw Murray lying in the street, his cousin Tyler Davis and another cousin standing nearby.
“I’ve never seen grown men look like little boys,” she said.
The shooting comes just two months after 13-year-old Dajae Coleman was shot and killed in what authorities say was an act of gang retaliation targeted at the wrong person.
Police have asked anyone with information about Thursday night's shooting to call the police department at (847) 866-5000.