Charles "Willie" Evans Jr.

Before Nov. 25, 1995, Charles “Willie” Evans Jr. wanted to be a cop. But after that Saturday night, he knew he had to be one.

Evans, now 28, was then a 17-year-old Farrell boy. He was a standout football player who was driving his brother’s Oldsmobile that night with three friends.

One of them asked to go to the Mercer County Housing Authority’s Pine Hollow Village Apartments on East Connelly Boulevard.

There, the car was fired upon and one of the shots grazed Evans’ head. He recovered, but his family’s house was shot upon in the months afterward as they were drawn into the case against Blaine E. Coleman.

Coleman, of Sharon, will be in jail at least 50 years longer, on federal and state charges for crimes including shooting Evans.

“After that happened, it solidified” his passion to enter law enforcement, Evans said.

The shooting wasn’t something Evans was going to bring up in a recent interview. Home for Thanksgiving, he’s more than a shooting victim and a witness in a criminal case.

He’s become a regular in courtrooms, a man who keeps order and occasionally leads a raid on one of America’s Most Wanted or protects a key federal witness or foreign dignitary like the Dalai Lama.

Evans is a U.S. Marshal.

Based in Baltimore, he is a member of the oldest federal law enforcement agency.

U.S. Marshals protect federal judges and their courtrooms, they arrest more than half of all federal fugitives, operate the Witness Protection Program, transport federal prisoners and seize property acquired by criminals through illegal activities.

In other words, Evans is “The Man.”

A 1997 Farrell High graduate, he went on to Grambling State University in Louisiana where he was a criminal justice major.

During his senior year of college he interned with the marshals and decided to apply for a job with the service and went through a “very lengthy and extensive interview,” he said.

In addition to brains, U.S. Marshals must have brawn, and the hiring process involves extensive physical and medical tests.

At first, he worked out of the service’s Arlington, Va., headquarters, then in 2002 was promoted to the services District of Maryland office in Baltimore.

He’s been around the world, escorting federally extradited witnesses, seeking wanted men and protecting federally relocated witnesses. He guarded the Dalai Lama and a high-level member of Fidel Castro’s Cuban regime.

“The fugitive work is the most exciting. That’s the best,” Evans said. “Sometimes it amazes me, the things we can do.”

The marshals use the latest in technology and some “really good techniques” Evans couldn’t talk about to go after criminals.

They are trained in such a specific way that when they raid a house, they are following methods they have memorized.

“Even split-second reactions follow the result of our training,” Evans said.

He said he enjoyed “the intensity” of being a part of a major operation.

He was a team leader during Operation Falcon III, the East Coast sweep for fugitives that marshals coordinated last month.

Evans said he’s proof that a person can live their dream if they are willing to work at it.

“Personally, what I can say is, anything is possible,” he said. “If an individual has a dream ...,” his voice trailed off.

The fire in his eyes shone through as he explained that dreaming is the easy part.

“The hard part is achieving it,” he said. “The hard thing is to keep at it. But like I said, anything is possible.”

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