Evanston police say 15 people were shot and wounded in Evanston over the past two years — and in only three of those cases has someone been charged with the crime.

That 20 percent clearance rate for shooting incident in Evanston, while seemingly low, is still substantially better than the rate just across Howard Street in Chicago.

There, a report by shows, charges were filed in less than 10 percent of the 3,643 shooting cases over the past two years.

On a per capita basis, the number of shooting incidents in Chicago is nearly seven times the rate in Evanston.

But Evanston Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott says the reasons for the low clearance rates for shooting incidents are similar in both communities.

“There definitely as a ‘code of silence’ among the people involved in these incidents as victims and witnesses refuse to talk to police,” Parrott says.

He says the vast majority of shooting incidents in Evanston appear to be gang-related — either involving a dispute over money, likely the proceeds of drug sales, or the result of a personal conflict or vendetta among groups of individuals.

“In several cases the victim in one shooting has been a suspect in other shooting incidents,” Parrott added.

But he acknowledges that because in some of the incidents nobody has been willing to talk, it’s hard for police to be sure what the motivations were for the shooting.

And he notes that in some cases the person who was shot may not have been the person the shooter was trying to hit — but just happened to be in a group with the intended target.

As for the Evanston cases in which charges were brought, Parrott says in one shooting incident two people were charged with aggravated battery with a firearm.

In each of the other cases, a suspect was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

The lesser charges often result, Parrott says, when a victim refuses to testify. Police may have had enough information to prove the offender had a weapon, fired it and was a felon — but not that the bullet that hit the victim had been fired by the suspect.

Parrott says officers are continuing to investigate one more Evanston shooting case from the past two years in which they hope charges may yet be filed.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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