Richard Eddington.

Police Chief Richard Eddington tried to ease concerns of neighbors after a late night shooting in downtown Evanston this week.

Speaking at Thursday night’s 1st Ward meeting, Eddington responded to neighbors distressed about a statement in a police press release about the Tuesday night shooting that said the incident  did not represent “a continued threat to the general public.”

Michael Stephens, who lives on Sherman Avenue downtown, said, “Shooting guns downtown makes it sound like it’s Dodge City, not Evanston” and said the shooting creates “a real serious issue about public safety.”

Eddington said that the police investigation showed that the incident wasn’t something like a carjacking, where offenders were searching for members of the general public to attack.

Instead, he said, the three men involved in the incident were “engaged in a criminal enterprise” and had a falling out among themselves that led to one of them getting shot.

Asked why there haven’t been arrests in the case, Eddington said that being able to prosecute those involved in the shooting would depend on the continued cooperation of the victim, who remains hospitalized.

“We have to get that individual in front of a grand jury as soon as he gets out of the hospital to nail down his story.”

“These things never are fast,” Eddington added.

In addition, he said, the suspects, who are former Evanston residents, “are experienced criminal offenders and are very good at hiding. They have multiple places where they can hide, so it’s not like where we have someone with a 9-to-5 job who you can always find in the office.”

“They have no desire to be brought before the bar of justice and will hide and evade as long as they can.”

Eddington said the department has increased foot patrols downtown recently to respond to complaints about panhandling and that he hopes that increased presence will also help to deter incidents like the shooting.

He added that he believes the criminal justice system in Cook County is not dealing harshly enough with repeat gun offenders and that encourages criminals to arm themselves.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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