Taking a close look at Peoria's Don't Shoot program

By Ashley McNamee

November 11, 2013 Updated Nov 12, 2013 at 4:15 PM CDT

The Don't Shoot program involves a call-in process where police bring members of the gang they're targeting to a meeting.

They tell the men to remove themselves from the life of crime they're used to and they offer resources to make that change.

They are warned that if they don't change they will be brought up on federal charges.

Robert Nathan was recently federally indicted because police say he didn't listen to that message. His family insists he did.

Officer Erin Barisch says Nathan attended the first call-in in Dec. and made many of the changes asked of him.

"There is no excuse if you get caught with a gun or drugs," said Ofc. Barisch.

Barisch says Nathan was pulled over with his son, a cousin and a friend in the car. Officers found a gun in the engine compartment.

"There is no reason. Why would you want to hang out with someone who has cocaine or a gun? Why is it in the car? It's convenient to say it doesn't belong to anybody, but then it belongs to everybody," said Peoria Police Capt. Mike Eddlemon.

"It could be the person who had the car before I had it," said Angennette Nathan, Robert's aunt. "That could have been me that got pulled over with the gun in the hood."

Nathan's aunt says that was her rental car. She says no one knows how the gun got there and no charges were ever filed against her nephew.

"Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. You do wrong and you pay for it and he has done that," she said.

Nathan's family acknowledges his past. Since 2005 he's been arrested 23 times. He did prison time in his teens for a gun charge and again in 2011 for drugs. Since then his record goes cold, no arrests, nothing until the car incident in April.

"If those young men have done their time for the state I don't think they should be charged twice," said Nathan.

His uncle, Charles Nathan, agrees he should not be in federal custody.

"He's not out there killing and shooting. Now he may have done some things in his past that we as a family don't agree with but at the same time he should not be locked up facing decades or life in prison," he said.

Federal prosecutors have charged Robert Nathan with conspiracy. It allows them to use every crime he's committed since 2005 to convict him on federal charges-even if he wasn't charged at the time. Ultimately police say if they didn't find a gun in that rental car he wouldn't sitting in federal custody.

Nathan is facing seven years to life in prison.