Evanston police say Dajae Coleman died a victim of mistaken identity.

Police say the events leading to his death started with a party on McDaniel Avenue in northwest Evanston Saturday night attended by about 150 young people.

Police say a parent was present at the party and there was no sign of illegal underage drinking — but when two girls at the party got into a fight, the parent told all the party-goers to leave sometime about 10 p.m.

As groups of young people started walking home, other fights broke out and one group of youths got into a fight with a relative of Wesley Woodson III.

That relative, police say, called Woodson to complain, and said the youths who he’d been fighting with were walking eastbound past Evanston Township High School on Church Street.

Meanwhile police had been drawn into the area just east of the high school after shots were fired there — but no one was hit.

As 14-year-old Dajae Coleman walked  with friends in the 1500 block of Church Street, police say Woodson, seeking revenge for his relative, grabbed a 9mm handgun and left his home at 1706 Ashland Ave.

Just a block or so away, when he saw the group Coleman was walking with, he mistakenly assumed they were the ones who’d been in the fight with his relative.

Words were exchanged and then, police say, Woodson fired four shots, one of which entered Coleman’s back and exited through his chest, leaving him to die at the scene.

Cmdr. Jay Parrott says several witnesses were able to identify Woodson as the man they saw firing the shots.

Police say Woodson is involved with the Gangster Disciples street gang has prior arrests for unlawful use of a weapon and for a drug law violation. He also reportedly was the victim in a shooting incident earlier this year.

He was arrested at home Wednesday, and police say he’s declined to make any statement about the incident.

The gun used in the crime has not yet been recovered.

Woodson has been ordered held without bond on first degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm charges and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Oct. 30.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Time to clean up Evanston

    There are many, many neighborhoods in Chicago that are gang-infested wastelands.  This didn't happen overnight and should be a cautionary tale for Evanston.  If left unchecked, significant portions of Evanston will go that same way.  If Evanstonians want to see the worst case scenario future, they can do it by driving through the West Humboldt Park, Garfield Park and Austin communities.  Evanston needs to take this tragedy as a lesson and a warning. 

  2. Armed youth

    It's high time the mayor and other good-doing Evanstonians stopped suggesting that if only our violent youth had more opportunities for sports, clubs, community service, job training , etc. the youth would be too wholesomely occupied to join gangs and tote guns. Our community is not the negative context, the families that are supposed to raise these kids should be held accountable, especially by the faith community. 

  3. I hope they got the right guy

    I also hope there is no rushed judgment.  Maybe what happened is what is described in the media, maybe not.  An aternative story is that several fights broke out after the party.  Under pressure to make an arrest for the murder, the police found one of the cousins of one of the people in a fight with an arrest history, picked him up and found a few witnesses to say they saw him there.

    It sounds like the whole case relies on witnesses. 

    1. I hope so too

      Traumatized/nervous witnesses who don't want to disappoint friends, and police, give unintentional false statements all the time. And in Evanston, police feel the need to close a case as quickly as possible, becasue of, well you know.

      1. This is Evanston

        We have to keep in mind that this is evanston. Meaning anything that happen in Evanston everyone will know who what where when in the matter of hours especially if both partys are from Evanston. Unless a witness has a hidden agenda I would take their word for. Everyone knows everyone in Evanston

    2. Law based on facts

      The law is based on fact and not opinion and being able to prove guilt beyond a resonable doubt.  I know if I was being wrongly accused I would be eager to make statement, which he has not done yet.

      The witnesses are just going to help build the case, having somebody identify you is what helped get him caught. It was no rush to make an arrest, he was identified and then arrested so it sounds to me somebody that knows right is right and wrong is wrong that you gotta pay for your choices.

      I wont call it a mistake because he had a choice to stay home and not be bothered with the drama his cousin had to offer. So at the end of the day it sounds like this case is based on fact and not opinion.

      1. facts

        Yes, you made good points, but we must remember that he is not us, and therefore what you would do- he may not do. If it were someone else in the car who did it and not him, do you realize that he still would not talk? It is a code that you have no idea of the complications it casues for victims, defendants, and the police. People often say things like "well if it isn't true, then you wouldn't get upset" when someone is lied on…I get very upset when lied on…and I don't care if I'm the only one in the world who does, my point is we can't judge people on what we would do.

      2. Theory vs practice

        In theory the law is based on facts and proof beyond reasonable doubt, but that is often not the case.  A lot of people have been released from prison in the past couple of years when DNA evidence proved their innocence.  Many of them had served a long time for violent crimes.  I am sure there was outrage and a sense of urgency at the time they were convicted.   There are a number of reasons why Mr. Woodson has not made a statement.  One of them is that the police "can and will use anything he says against him…".  The burden of proof is supposed to be on the police to prove the case, not on him to prove his innocence.

        If the case goes to trial, imagine what it would be like to be juror.  If you think there is a better than even chance that he was guilty, but not "proof beyond reasonable doubt", could you vote non guilty?  You would think about how you would have to live in this community after the trial, and it would be very hard to do.

  4. Guns to solve disputes

    I don't think this will be solved with more law enforcement or control of gangs. Certainly, more ways to get guns out of the hands of individuals would be a good thing. But pragmatically, this is about changing mindsets.

    What causes anyone to think that the way to respond to a conflict is to pull out a gun? If Wesley Woodson III had shot the person who had been in the fight with his cousin, would that be any better?

    How can we educate our young people to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence?

  5. Priors

    What I am confused about is he has a prior gun charge and a prior drug charge but still roaming the streets? Evanston has to have the most lenient police department. The same lil trouble makers do the same things over and over again and there gone for mayb three months at the max only to see them again doin the same stuff I once got a gun pulled on me on Ashland and Emerson by the same entourage round that area and the police confiscated the gun and took the kid home to his parents! I kid you not. I'm not gon say he did it bcuz I don't kno the facts but what I do kno is that he is one if the same lil knuckle-heads that are in Evanston doing nothing but causing all sorts of drama 

    1. Re; Priors

      Maybe after english class, you could look into a social studies class … Police do not decide if / when criminals return to the street. That is the job of judges. Police can only arrest people. They have no control after that. 

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