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Recent Homicides Tied to 2005 Shooting, Police Say

Evanston police believe the shooting of Robert Gresham in 2005 at the Keg may have launched a violent and deadly give-and-take between two extended families with gang ties.

As the Evanston community reels from two homicides and one serious shooting in less than two weeks, police say the recent violence may all stem back to a murder that took place in Evanston in 2005, and the resulting ongoing feud between two local families. 

In that incident, police say 19-year-old Antoine Hill shot and killed 22-year-old Robert Gresham at the Keg, 810 Grove Street. A judge sentenced Hill to 18 years in prison on charges of first-degree murder in October 2006; he was released on parole this September. 

“Police believe that may have been the start of the violent back-and-forth issues between these two factions,” said Police Cmdr. Jason Parrott, a spokesperson for the Evanston Police Department. According to Parrott, the victims of three more shootings between 2010 and 2012 have family ties with either Gresham or Hill.

Marcus Davis, 23, Dies in Shooting Sept. 30, 2010

The next violent death in the pattern came two years after Gresham’s shooting, on Sept. 30, 2010, when 23-year-old Evanston resident Marcus Davis , according to police. Officers , who was .

Prosecutors argued that the shooting was related to the murder of Robert Gresham, based on the relationships involving two Evanston extended families: the Davises and the Bambergs. According to court documents, Gresham was John Anthony Bamberg’s brother, while Antoine Hill is Marcus Davis’ cousin. 

“There is evidence that an ongoing feud between the Bamberg family and the Davis family arose from the 2005 [shooting] of Robert Gresham,” the state’s attorney’s office argued in a motion filed this June. “Bamberg threatened the victim on two prior occasions, and there is evidence that Mr. Davis and his family were subjected to incidents of shootings.”

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Court documents also show that narcotics could have been involved in that shooting. The Cook County Medical Examiner discovered a clear plastic bag on Davis’ body, containing a substance that police later identified as crack cocaine, according to court documents. Bamberg’s attorney also said that Davis was driving a car that “he had recently acquired from a person who wanted to sell it because it was too well known for being used for drug transactions."

Judge Lauren Gottainer Edidin ruled that Bamberg was not guilty in a bench trial that concluded on Nov. 30, 2012. According to court documents, Bamberg’s attorney argued that the eyewitness testimony of Davis’ girlfriend was not reliable in identifying his client as the shooter. Davis’ girlfriend told police that she knew the shooter, but did not identify him in the first lineup presented to her immediately after the shooting; she did identify him in a second lineup, presented hours later. Prosecutors argued that Davis' girlfriend was afraid to identify Bamberg the first time, according to court documents.

The judge’s decision to acquit Bamberg ultimately came down to the question of the eyewitness testimony, the Chicago Tribune reports.

A source who knows the Bamberg family, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, said many people weren’t happy about the verdict--and that it was connected to the recent tide of violence.

“Since then, it’s been hell out here,” the source said. “You can get shot out here for saying the wrong [stuff.]”

Recent Violence is Part of the Pattern, Police Say

Most recently, police believe that the fatal shooting of Justin Murray on Nov. 29, the shooting of a 20-year-old Evanston man who was critically injured on Dec. 8, and the fatal shooting of Javar Bamberg on Dec. 12 could be tied to both prior incidents, according to Parrott.  But Parrott said that police believe the shootings are more complicated than simply an extended family feud.

“Two families that don’t get along don’t resort to carrying weapons, shooting guns, organizing extended members of their family to take shots at people at 2 o’clock in the morning,” he said. “That’s not normal behavior. That’s indicative of gang-related behavior.”

Parrott also said that police believe some of the individuals connected with the incidents are involved in gang-related activities, including narcotics sales, battery and weapons possession.

“We’re confident that this is a group of individuals that are doing this, and they’re definitely targeting each other, and it’s definitely retaliatory in nature,” he said. 

Justin Murray, 19, Dies in Shooting, Nov. 29, 2012

In the case of Justin Murray, police believe that the shooter may not have intended to kill Murray, but someone that he was with. Murray is also a distant relative of the Bamberg family, according to Parrott. 

“There was nothing specific to him other than his alignment with the Bamberg family,” he said. “We’re not sure if he was the intended target or a person he was with was the intended target.”

Parrott added that the police investigation of Murray’s death was stymied by a lack of cooperating witnesses. 

“People that are involved in gang-related violent behavior, the subculture is not to cooperate with police,” he said. “The subculture is, ‘We’ll take care of it ourselves. It’s our business,’ which hampers the investigation.’” 

The next shooting came just hours before Justin Murray’s funeral, on Saturday, Dec. 8, when a 20-year-old Evanston man was shot and critically injured at 1:50 a.m. in the 1900 block of Howard Street. Parrott said that man’s name had come up as a suspect during police investigation of Murray’s shooting, and police believe he was the intended target. Police are not releasing his name; he remains in critical condition at the hospital, according to Parrott. 

Javar Bamberg, 23, Dies in Shooting Dec. 12

The third and most recent shooting took the life of  early Tuesday morning. Javar Bamberg is the brother of John Anthony Bamberg, Jr., according to Parrott. Police believe that incident, too, may have ties to gang violence, he said. 

“It’s basically an extended family feud interlaced with gang activity,” Parrott explained. 

For that reason, he said, members of the general public should not be concerned about their own safety. Nevertheless, Parrott said police have increased their presence in the neighborhoods where the shootings have occurred, both to reassure residents and to prevent further violence.

“We don’t at this point think that this conflict is concluded,” he said. “Police are concerned for the potential of more violence within these groups.”

Mayor Calls It “A Tragedy As Old as the Hatfields and the McCoys”

Speaking at Justin Murray’s funeral on Saturday, Dec. 8, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl described the shootings as “a tragedy as old as the Hatfields and the McCoys, the Montagues and the Capulets,” and called for an end to the violence.

On Tuesday, she released a statement calling the continued violence “unacceptable.” 

“While we grieve with our local families over their losses, the entire Evanston community has been shaken,” Tisdahl said. “Our children are concerned for their safety and all residents are questioning this unusual period of events.”

Tisdahl vowed that the Evanston Police Department was “vigorously” investigating the murders, and was working as quickly as possible to bring the culprits to justice.

She also called residents to participate in the city’s first-ever gun buyback program, scheduled for this Saturday, Dec. 15. The program was launched at the urging of Carolyn Murray, Justin Murray’s mother, who began pushing the city to do such a program this summer, months before her son was killed.

Officials will accept unloaded guns only from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Christ Temple Missionary Baptist Church, 1711 Simpson St. Participants must have proof of Evanston residency and can turn in up to two guns for $100 each.

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Anon December 13, 2012 at 11:37 PM
<i>A source who knows the Bamberg family, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, said many people weren’t happy about the verdict--and that led to the recent tide of violence.</i> This doesn't make a lot of sense, because Justin Murray was killed Nov. 29, and the verdict didn't come down until the next day (which you accurately reported above). So it's hard to say if the court verdict had any effect on any of the later retaliations.
Jennifer Fisher (Editor) December 13, 2012 at 11:44 PM
The source wasn't talking about the Murray shooting specifically.
Jennifer Fisher (Editor) December 13, 2012 at 11:46 PM
p.s. I changed "led" to "connected to" in order to avoid confusion about that specific connection.
Anon December 13, 2012 at 11:56 PM
If it wasn't clear, I wasn't criticizing your reporting, just the analysis by the confidential source. I'm sure many of Marcus Davis's relatives are angry about the verdict, but it seems like the Bamberg - Davis - Bamberg pattern can be explained without any reference to the verdict (especially since the Nov. 29 looks like an attempt to preempt the legal process anyway). Maybe he gave you something off the record though. By the way, Jennifer, why are the police asking media to withhold the name of the Dec. 8 victim on Howard? Looks like he's an adult and his first name is readily ascertainable on twitter...
Jennifer Fisher (Editor) December 14, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Gotcha. Well, with this kind of story I want to be very careful what I state or even imply. As for the man who was shot on Howard Dec. 8, police say they do not reveal the names of victims of crime as a routine (which is true, in my experience.)
J C December 14, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Woah kill some one in 2005 and your out on the street in 2012..... What do we call that ? Progressive justice?
Tea December 14, 2012 at 03:43 PM
You are so "right on", J C. I couldn't believe that this person got 18 years, but served only seven, which is less than half of the sentence. This is crazy! If I were a police officer, a lawyer or even a judge, I would probably give up. These professionals go through all of the trouble of bringing justice, just to be faced with the same idiot, same crimes, years later. This makes no sense to me.
Tea December 14, 2012 at 03:50 PM
P.S. No surprise the "other family" is retailiating. I'd be pissed off too if someone killed my loved one and didn't serve the full sentence, or at least a majority of the sentence. Had this person served the entire 18 years, perhaps these family members would have been too old to think about retaliating once he got out of prison.
NON December 14, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Evanston will be a blood bath unless someone steps up. a bamberg or davis must step up now. otherwise this will be never ending. plus this law they passed regarding the firearms will not make this any better.
diane britton December 14, 2012 at 07:53 PM
maybe it time for the davis and bamberg family to set down and have a talk with there younger family . asking them to give up the killing each other. i am not part of the family but i am tried of see them hurt because , they have lost one more of there kids that they have so hard to bring up young men, not for them to loss there lives on the street of evanston.
diane britton December 14, 2012 at 07:58 PM
what different do it make when everyone one know who this person is already. the young people knew before we did, now tell me how to stop it.
Former Evanstonian December 15, 2012 at 12:33 PM
The original conflict started at The Keg where the gunman, who was then 19, was served alcohol which has been a constant problem with The Keg for many years. They should have been closed down years ago. Every summer, the city of Evanston holds its Annual Community Picnic where there is free food and drinks. For several years, The Keg Restaurant provided the catering. This practice ended only when a when a watch-dog citizen found out about it and tried to get an investigation. No one, not even the Illinois Attorney General, would look in to it. Even the local media refused to ask questions. Time and again, The Keg gets caught serving the under-aged, fights often break-out where the Evanston Police are called, there are allegations of other lewd behavior that goes on, but somehow they get to stay in business. Their punishment usually consists of being closed for just a couple of days during the summer when Northwestern Students are on break. Bills Blues Bar has a shooting and they are now gone. At each of the subsequent Liquor Commission hearings, the board votes unanimously to permanently close The Keg, but the Mayor of Evanston, who has the only vote that counts, keeps them in business. Why? Because Evanston has something to hide that now includes having blood on their hands. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-12-13/news/ct-met-evanston-another-shooting-timeline-20121213_1_john-anthony-bamberg-evanston-police-antoine-hill
Malta December 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM
How is this "episode" really any different than the daily ongoing violence that is pervasive throughout south chicago? Pretty much the same as the gang violence that is written about daily...black culture After all. This behavior does not occur in the north suburbs...
Dennis December 15, 2012 at 01:50 PM
These are the people that make guns stupid, then the "PEOPLE" in Government want to take guns away from people like myself that received a 22 caliber rifle for my sixteen birthday, I am now 73, I could and did carry it to a shooting area thought the streets of Barrington. NO SWAT, no police, no fooling.. Only the people with no mental controls do the killing and for one to serve ONLY 7 out of 18 years is beyond wrong... 1st degree murder treated like a parking ticket??? The family is to blame, always is, where your child is and who they are with is more than just important, it is YOUR job after bringing them into this world...
Malta December 15, 2012 at 02:31 PM
90% blacks born out of wedlock....no fathers or mothers really... Just out of control on the streets....and society forced to desk with this in a "politically correct" manner....police are "sued" most of the time if they attempt to intervene. I suspect the police just try to "look the other way" as much as possible... There is a reason blacks make up the vast majority of prison populations...
Casey December 17, 2012 at 03:02 PM
The men that you are talking about in these articles had both mother and father in their lives growing up and still do they were not born out of wedlock. So does it really make a difference?
J C December 17, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Well look at the bright side, Atleast they don't have the propensity of marrying their sisters and cousins, Like alot of you teabagers seem to have an affinity to do...
NE December 18, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Im from evanston im 23 and graduated class of 06. 07 was the last class that left evanston with any since...I live just outside of evanston, and I KNOW EXACTLY who these killers are...young kids 17-22...its a shame! I know who these kids are, who their mother is, and where to find them...and maybe the police know too, they just don't have the evidence...something must be done...these kids have no fear and no value of life! They are brain washed by what hip hop has become, and what it means to be "real" smh
Phethur December 20, 2012 at 07:19 AM
Just wanted to say there is one fact that has been left out of this so called "Bamberg-Davis Feud" that I feel is very relevant and makes me question what the police are putting out about Justin's murder. Justin was related to the Bamberg and the Davis family. The Murray and Davis families are related (cousins on his father's side) and on his mother's side the Bambergs (also his cousins). I question if this "family feud" had anything to do with who and why Justin was killed.
TruthIs December 25, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Fact: Crack was found in Davis ass. How could this be a family feud when three family members (Bamberg)have been killed and no one from the other side has.
Mark T December 25, 2012 at 02:05 AM
You may have missed that the Mayor revoked the liquor license of the Keg only to be overturned by the state liquor commission. Oh and welcome back Richard Schulte.
Mark T December 25, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Obviously this behavior does occur in the north suburbs or I must have missed geography class when Evanston wasn't north of Chicago. Criminal behavior exists everywhere. The Maine West hazing scandals are an example in case you want to get off of your "let's blame blacks for violence" attitude.
L. Mitchell April 27, 2013 at 07:22 AM
4 minutes agoThe truth is this feud goes back farther than 2005....forgot the year ghat John Bamberg was shot and he found out that Alvin Hemphill aka Deron shot him. So in March of 2003 or 2004 Robert Gresham set Deron up to be shot. Deron was dropping Robert Gresham off at his granny's house when someone jumped out the bushes shooting and riumor says it was john Bamberg....mind you robert Gresham and john Bamberg have the same father!

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