Evanston Township High School Superintendent Eric Witherspoon says neither the teenager shot Friday afternoon at the McDonald’s restaurant on Dempster Street, nor the youth charged in the case are currently enrolled at the high school.

Evanston Township High School Superintendent Eric Witherspoon says neither the teenager shot Friday afternoon at the McDonald’s restaurant on Dempster Street, nor the youth charged in the case are currently enrolled at the high school.

Witherspoon, in an announcement read to classes Monday, also urged students to report any signs of possible impending violence to school authorities.

Here’s the text of his message:

On Friday, April 15th at approximately 4:00 in the afternoon a 16 year-old was shot at the McDonald’s located on Dempster Street near Dodge Avenue. The victim is in the hospital and is recuperating. Another teenager has been arrested and charged. The victim was not attending classes at ETHS. He attends school in another setting. And the person charged in the shooting is not currently enrolled at ETHS.

Nonetheless, whenever a teenager in our community is shot by another teenager, this is a serious concern for all of us at ETHS. It is tragic to think that a person eating at a McDonald’s in our community would be shot. And it is shocking to think that any person would shoot another human being. This violence threatens all of us. Even though the alleged shooter and the victim involved in this shooting were not attending classes here at ETHS, they were in a public restaurant where many of your classmates were eating and socializing after school on Friday. When the shots were fired, everyone in McDonald’s was in grave danger. We have to be so thankful that none of the rest of you who were in the restaurant were injured. I feel really shaken to think about all of you who were in life-threatening danger, and I am really shaken that some you had to witness the shooting of another person.

Nobody in any community should be in danger when eating in a local restaurant or attending school or walking on the sidewalk. We all must take action to stop the violence. We all must take our individual responsibility seriously. When the safety of any one of us is threatened, the safety of us all is threatened. At ETHS, we must all do our part to make our school and community safe for ourselves and for everyone else.

I urge you take personal responsibility for keeping our community safe. We have reason to believe that some of you knew that there was a dangerous situation developing after school on Friday. Please – I urge you, if you ever know anything or even suspect anything about any situation that might put you or anybody else at risk, tell a member of our staff here at ETHS immediately. Never hesitate. Never let your failure to alert authorities lead to the injury or death of another person. Consider any possible risk as being urgent and tell a staff member right away so we can look into the situation immediately to determine any risk. The ETHS Safety Hotline (1-888-214-4445) is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are anonymous, and the number is posted on page 8 of the Pilot, and also on the back cover of the Pilot. Never hesitate to use it.

Again, remember that whenever anybody in our community is at risk, we are all at risk. As citizens of the ETHS community, we must protect ourselves and protect others. Please be a responsible human being. Do your part to stop violence.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Where were the ‘excellent’ teachers ?

    While it may be some relief to some parents that those involved were not current student [how long away from Evanston schools ?], it should mean nothing—they are apparently out of the streets at all times not just after school.

    Of course if Evanston teachers/administrators are as good as they claim, all children should have been reached in the schools long before things would get to this level.  'Good' teachers should have imparted the 'education' and ethics that this never would have occured.

    Given that this was an attempted murder [why else carry a gun], the Arlington Heights boy [and friends] who murdered his father, and the report of a recent murder where the person researched the states that have the death penalty, we may see more fruit of the governors banning the death penalty, rather than fix the system. Hopefully the legislature will pass a law he can't veto.


    1. What about ‘excellent’ parents and guardians?

      Your comments re: 'Excellent' teachers is ridiculous. Teachers are supposed to teach. In today's society teachers are required to play parent, social worker, mentor, psychologist, and still teach. What about the kid's parent or his legal guardian? What role and accountability should society place upon them? Our schools can only do so much. Given the challenges confronting Evanston, we need to think seriously about how different community organizations can have a positive impact upon our community. P.S. I am not a teacher.

    2. This is not the teachers’

      This is not the teachers' responsibility, and it shouldn't be.  

  2. Single-parent homes = poverty + crime

    What a relief – the shooter and victim are not ETHS students. Now I can sleep better.

    Instead, they are teens with guns roaming Evanston streets with some kind of grudge against each other.

    How much you wanna bet these teens come from single-parent homes where there is some degree of government assistance. In the end, taxpayers foot the bill as their property values decline because of crime or the perception of crime.

    I wonder what the ETHS dropout rate is? Maybe it's time to enact a military draft for high school dropouts. That wouldn't work because the military only wants qualified eager enlistees.

    Someone on this board wrote that punishment doesn't deter crime. Then what does – paper plates with peace signs? A big bear hug? More government-sponsored youth programs? It's this kind of thought process that enables the thug mentality to thrive.

    1. to Anonymous Al

      Amen to what you have written, but you DO realize how un-PC it is! Wait until the Nanny State takes over completely and then see how things are!!

    2. Assumptions…

      In response to "how much do you wanna bet these teens come from single-parent homes…?"

      It is unfortunate that you address the issue of violence in Evanston based on assumptions. If your line of thinking was true, then President Obama would not deserve to be where he is. Some young citizens are prone to violence regardless of their socio-economic group. Prejudice and stereotypes in our community are as damaging as the violence you denounce and only fuel conflict among us.

      Probably paper plates with peace signs may not be the answer, but it is a far more engaging way to deal with it than accusations based on pre-conceived ideas about others.

      1. It doesn’t take a village – it takes both parents


        I don't base the issue of violence and the connection to single-parent households on assumptions. I base it on FACT.

        My post was not prejudicial or stereotyping. Studies and research consistently find that kids who grow up in single-parent households are far more likely to live in poverty, do drugs and commit crime.

        The breakdown of the family can be traced back to the counterculture of the 1960s when the sexual revolution and drug use became commonplace.

        Only two generations ago most kids, including African-Americans, grew up in two-parent families. Now sadly, the divorce rate is 50 percent and 75 percent of black children are born to a single-parents.

        Although I sympathize and agree to a point with Susy that we should do something, my solution would be the school of hard knocks – if you don't marry when you have a child you are considered by everyone – friends, family, neighbors – as a pariah, a social outcast that deserves disrespect and scorn. After all, our actions or lack thereof affect everyone around us. The media, neighbors, friends and family should openly question the shooter's parent (s). Why did their kids have a gun? What are they doing about their kids' problems? Where's the father? Everything about them should be made public.

        That kind of societal pressure might get results rather than parading around in the middle of the day with peace signs carved on paper plates. I also think that more power and emphasis should be given to community churches – a place where moral decisions are expected and supported. We all have to believe in something so how could anyone not believe in the value and sanctity of marriage, especially when children are involved? 

        It doesn't take a village – it takes the parents to raise a child. And yes, there are some wonderful effective single parents who raise wonderful capable kids. But the odds are greatly against you if you're raised in a single-parent household.  That's a fact.

        The irony is that President Obama was raised in a middle class neighborhood by his TWO grandparents after he was abandoned first by his dad and then his mom. I'm surprised he never wrote a tome about his grandparents.

        1. It does take a village!

          Anonymous Al,

          I can assume from your postings, that you have a very successful life, having grown up in a home where your two parents raised you in a nurturing, but not compassionate way. That is not the case for many, many fellow Evanstonians.

          Does it mean that we have to ostracize them, with the hopes that our rejection will force them to be more like you?

          Does it mean that we have to give up on people who, for whatever circumstance, do not enjoy the same privileges and opportunities that you experience on your daily life?

          Helping others in need is one of the great opportunities people with better luck have in life. However, I respectfully disagree with your assumption about the two boys involved in the shooting at McDonalds. Would you agree with me if it happens that those kids live in a household with two married parents?

          By the way, the boys who killed dozens of students and teachers at Columbine some years ago are children of married couples. So yes, the statistics may say one thing, but it is up to us as a community –including the parents, of course — to help change those numbers so all children have a better shot at being successful, not only the ones who subscribe to a specific religious view of life.

          It seems too that you trust your church leaders for moral direction, Would you mind asking them about compassion and passing judgment on people we don't even know?

    3. This will be the first, and

      This will be the first, and probably last, time I say this, but I couldn't agree with you more on this one Anonymous Al.

  3. Think before you write……

    I am part of this educational system and people are working so hard to help all children. I don't understand why we so quickly want to blame families, schools, communities…. Have you walked in the shoes of these parents or a classroom teacher recently? We need to learn how to form better partnerships to help people rather than place blame. What have you done to help others in your community??

    By the way, this single parent is educated and does not live off of public assistance. You should think before you comment.

  4. Excellence

    Teachers are supposed to teach, and they do. But a teacher is also often the most important adult in a child's life next to the parents. Often the teacher is the first adult to notice a learning issue, speech problem, behavior problem, and psychological issues; issues that even an involved parent might not notice, because teachers have a more global perspective of the normal range of behavior, development and learning. Teachers also have access to social workers and psychologists right in the school building. As a parent I have often wondered how these violent teens can have made their way through our Evanston schools, some of them with my own children, without their issues having been addressed. It is heartbreaking. As an unabashed liberal, I fault society for failing these kids. Yes, of course they probably have terrible home lives, parents, and other role models, but that is not their fault. They once–and not very long ago–were innocent infants and young children with all of life's promise before them. Now what do they have? Gunshot wounds and prison? Their community–and that means all of us–has to find a way to help them up while they are still able to be helped. As experts, teachers and school social workers and psychologists are on the front lines here, and I am sure they know it and are doing what they can. But they have to do more. So do the neighbors of these kids, parents of their friends at school, school volunteers, librarians, doctors and nurses, law enforcement. All of us can play a part. It does take a village. For an innocent child born into a home life that otherwise would produce a criminal, the village is all that they have. Please, I am begging, let's not let more innocent lives be lost. And in the process we can produce a safe and decent community for all of us.

  5. I spent the first 18 years

    I spent the first 18 years of my life in Evanston, and I'm finishing up my freshman year at college.

    Evanston has always had a bit of a rough side to it. I have been seeing crazy fights since middle school, been taught by many classmates how to shake up gang signs, seen those same classmates fight and watched a few drop out or end up in jail.

    Being exposed to harsh realities like this seems like a bad thing, but really it makes you a much better person to grow up in such a diverse area. Of course poverty and violence are terrible, terrible things, but they aren't problems that are going to leave Evanston anytime soon.

    Some of the kids I knew in high school that grew up without much money  turned out to be thugs, but there were so many that have done something positive with their lives and were great to have as classmates. I'm glad i was shown both sides of the spectrum.

    But please don't act as if teachers can change the way a kid thinks. If you have gone to ETHS you know there are some kids who just dont care what ANY authority figure has to say and really are just lost. It sucks but it is real life.

    I know the kid who allegedly pulled the trigger, I was his senior leader in gym class. The guy acted like a fool, never listened to his teacher and was overall not a very good kid. My point is there are always a few bad apples, no teacher can change the way they act.

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