Police say a 20-year-old Evanston man fatally shot 14-year-old Dajae Coleman last Saturday, when he mistook the Evanston Township High School freshman and his friends for another group.
Wesley A. Woodson, III, of the 1700 block of Ashland Avenue in Evanston, is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm, police announced in a press conference Friday. He was arrested on Wednesday, Sept. 27, appeared in bond court Friday morning and is currently being held without bond.
“This was a retaliatory act upon an innocent group of teens with no gang affiliations,” Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said at a press conference Friday afternoon.
According to Parrott, Coleman attended a large party on McDaniel Avenue before the shooting on Saturday night. The party was broken up by a parent when two girls started fighting around 10 p.m., and roughly 150 teens began walking east on Church Street toward Evanston Township High School.
Several groups started fighting, and one of those fights involved a person Woodson knew, Parrott said. Someone called Woodson to tell him about the fight, and Woodson started walking east from his home toward the 1500 block of Church Street, carrying a 9-millimeter gun.
When Woodson saw Dajae and his friends, he mistook the group for the group he knew, and fired four shots. Dajae and his friends started to run away, and as they were running, Dajae was shot in the back, police said. The bullet exited through his chest, and he died at the scene.
Police said Woodson was affiliated with the Gangster Disciples, a local street gang, and in the last six months he was the victim of a gunshot wound, but did not cooperate with police in the investigation.
“I am deeply sorry that his perpetrator is an Evanstonian,” Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said at the press conference.
Police Chief Richard Eddington said the arrest could not have been made without the help of the community. Officers from the Evanston Police Department began interviewing witnesses at the scene immediately after the incident. Several people told police saw the shooting occur and identified Woodson as the killer, Parrott said.
Police recovered four 9-millimeter shell casings on the ground near the scene, but have not yet found the gun, according to Parrott. No charges are currently being considered against the person who called Woodson that night.
“Senseless crimes of violence like this leave scars on the community that are difficult to heal even after many years,” said Police Chief Richard Eddington. “[Dajae’s] loss is profound not only for his family but for the entire community.”
A preliminary hearing is set for Woodson at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, in Cook County Circuit Court in Skokie.