Hundreds discuss youth violence in Evanston after 14-year-old honor student Dajae Coleman is fatally shot

October 2, 2012 (EVANSTON, Ill.)

With every seat taken, dozens of people stood as they listened to city officials talk about youth programs in the community.

"They are very concerned about safety for all of our children and we are determined to make this community safe," said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl.

"Trying to come up with plausible ways to help this community," said Robert Bady, Evanston resident.

Coleman, a high school freshman honor roll student, was a talented basketball player with a bright future. He was shot and killed as he walked home from a party in Evanston. Prosecutors have charged Wesley Woodson, 20, with first-degree murder. Police say Woodson has gang affiliations and mistook Coleman for another teenager who had been involved in a fight with a family member.

"This is a horribly tragic event and we are trying to focus that angst, fear and concern into positive reactions from the community," said Chief Richard Eddington.

Residents broke into smaller groups to try to offer solutions to the violence. They offered idea from improved street lighting to more community outreach and more jobs for teens. And some say the solutions begin at home.

"They want the guns off the streets to stop the killing," said Patricia Hunt, Evanston resident. "They want to come together as one."

Police say despite the highly publicized murder of Dajae Coleman, youth violence actually appears to be on the decline in Evanston. Including Coleman, there have been three homicides involving teenagers in Evanston since the year 2000. Even one is too many, however, and city officials say they are grateful for the community involvement.

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