Update 2:20 p.m.: Evanston police say a 19-year-old Chicago man has been charged with first degree murder in the death of Best Taxi Service driver Leodis Blackburn.

Blackburn was shot in the head while driving his cab in the 500 block of Elmwood Avenue about 2 a.m. on Sunday, May 15.

He died Wednesday afternoon at St. Francis Hospital.

Police Cmdr. Tom Guenther say the man charged in the case, Darien Lawrence Marquez-Connerly, flagged down Blackburn’s cab near Ridge Avenue and Howard Street and asked to be taken to the Elmwood Avenue address.

As they arrived there, Marquez-Connerly allegedly pulled out a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun and, after demanding the cab driver’s money, shot Blackburn in the head when he refused to turn it over and started to drive away.

The bullet, which struck Blackburn just above the left ear, disabled him, but the car continued to roll down the street striking some parked cars before finally coming to rest. The gunman then fled the scene on foot.

Guenther says the North Regional Major Crime Task Force received an anonymous tip implicating Marquez-Connerly in the shooting.

After learning Marquez-Connerly was on parole for a 2009 aggravated robbery conviction, Guenther said, police in cooperation with the state corrections department were able to locate him and take him into custody on Saturday in the 7500 block of N. Ridge Boulevard in Chicago.

Guenther says that in interviews with police Marquez-Connerly made a full statement and confessed to the murder of Blackburn.

He says police also recovered video surveilance footage from police cameras mounted on light poles along Howard Street that showed Marquez-Connerly entering Blackburn’s cab.

Police say Marquez-Connerly bought the gun used in the shooting on the street and may have tried to sell it afterward.

Guenther said the police department has “an excellent relationship” with community residents and said tips, like the one received in this case are often very helpful in solving crimes. He urged residents to call police whenever they have what might be useful information.

He said cab drivers, because of the nature of their work — letting people they don’t know into the back seat of their cars — have a risky job and that the department offers safety training for the drivers.

He said the last time an Evanston cab driver was killed at work was back in the 1980s.

Marquez-Connerly lives at 2005 W. Jarvis in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, just over a mile from the 500 block of Elmwood. Guenther speculated that Marquez-Connerly may have intended to visit an acquaintance near where the shooting took place.

The police department’s daily bulletin indicates that Marquez-Connerly was arrested on March 31 at 1715 Brown Ave. in Evanston and charged with battery.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Evanston youth

    What can we do?  Here is another youth in our community being arrested for a serious crime.  I am disappointed  each time I read about a young person in Evanston being arrested or killed.  I think as parents we need to re-gain control of our kids and be more vigilant of their activities.  Schools are an important piece but if reinforcement of positive behavior and being a productive member of our society isn't done at home, these kids are at a lost.  And in turn our community is effected by their behavior.  

    I don't know what the answer is, but we have to do something.  I had a  few very important discussions with my 8th grader over the past few  weeks after  an 18 year old friend of a friend was killed by a bullet to the head and a brother of a classmate spent some time at  26th  and Cal.   Our lives are full of choices and if we make not very good choices,  we might have not so great consequences.  I pray that my child (ren) learns from the errors of others, sad to say.   I also pray that as parents we wake up and educate our kids…it's hard but a lot of us already do it.

    1. What can we do?

      We can start by NOT allowing parole for violent offenders. This criminal was on parole for a 2009 Aggravated Robbery, and the article shows an arrest March 31 (just 2 months ago) for battery.  Had he been in prison in 2009, there would have been no arrest for battery less than 2 months ago. Had he been in prison, the cab driver would not have been shot, and would still be alive.

      Why was this person NOT in prison? Which Judge was lax enough to allow this man to be out walking the streets?

      Put the responsibility squarely where it belongs: 1) on the offender himself, and 2) on the shoulders of a too lenient judiciary that allows violent offenders to walk away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

      To another point- it is NOT the job of the schools to teach manners, or morals, or personal responsibility. Where were the parents or parent during this man's formative years? 

      No easy answers, but I assure you it's NOT going to get any better unless some of these criminals are put out of society [one way or another] or learn to live peacefully and lawfully within it.

  2. Crime and Violence

    Lets be clear this is an Evanston youth, he is a product of our Evanston schools!

    And an Evanston family, he needed help all the while and our great city and its people could not or would not!

    We think all these things are just happening there not we have a systemic problem like all the rest of the country! We thought  if we sat on the lake and did not pay attention the issues would go away!

    Our businesses n schools, and city and its people better get involved it only the first inning!!  

    Lets train those we have kicked to the curb to become productive, there are more young people in our town then the young at NU!!


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