Citizens help in shooting investigation
URBANA - About the time a funeral service for Laquentin Porter-Hughes was being held in Champaign on Thursday, police in Urbana were arresting a man accused of shooting him to death on New Year's Eve.
Emmanuel D. Chounard was arrested about 12:15 p.m. Thursday on a warrant for the first-degree murder of Mr. Porter-Hughes, who was shot in the 1200 block of North Busey Avenue in Urbana about 7:15 p.m. Dec. 31.
Mr. Porter-Hughes, 20, also known as Laquentin Hughes, was pronounced dead about half an hour later at Carle Foundation Hospital.
Chounard was being held on a $1 million bond, according to Urbana police.
Autopsy results showed Mr. Porter-Hughes had been shot twice: once in the face and once fatally through the heart. His funeral was at noon Thursday at the Grove Street Church of God in Christ. Burial was later at the Lincoln Memorial Gardens.
Mr. Porter-Hughes is survived by his parents, John and Gussie Hughes of Champaign, three brothers, two sisters, a daughter and maternal and paternal grandmothers. He attended Centennial High School and Parkland College.
Urbana police Lt. Michael Metzler said earlier that at the time of the shooting, Mr. Porter-Hughes was talking to his girlfriend, who was in a car with their 18-month-old daughter, along with another adult female and three other children, ages 9, 3 and 2.
In addition to the two shots that struck Mr. Porter-Hughes, four bullets hit the car, including one that went through a windshield and just missed the 18-month-old girl in a child safety seat.
Police were helped by citizens who came forward with different bits of information that police put together, Metzler said. A Jan. 3 News-Gazette story about the shooting and how it could have been even more tragic ?angered a lot of people and prompted some important telephone calls? that helped police, the lieutenant said.
?The community and their outrage at this type of behavior was significant in our ability to identify Mr. Chounard as the offender and to obtain a warrant for his arrest,? Metzler said.
He declined to comment on any motive for the shooting or give any more information about the circumstances other than to say, ?The shooting of Mr. Hughes was a senseless killing.?
Court records show Chounard listed himself as a Parkland student, unemployed and the father of an infant son. Chounard also was a victim in a stabbing case in November.
Urbana police arrested Chounard as a result of an intensive investigation in which all members of the agency's investigations unit were involved. That investigation is continuing, according to Metzler.
?We are still looking for information from people who may have knowledge of this shooting,? Metzler said. ?As with any crime this serious, the investigation really begins once we've made an arrest. We put a lot of man-hours into it, but we still have a lot work to do.?
Chounard, 20, who listed an address in the 800 block of West Church Street, C, was expected to be arraigned today on the murder charge. Chounard was already facing four counts of burglary in which he was accused of creating and passing forged checks at Urbana banks last year, according to Metzler.
Court records show that Chounard pleaded not guilty Monday to the burglary charges and demanded a trial by jury. He is due to appear in court again Feb. 26 for a pretrial on the burglary charges.
Two counts accuse Chounard of entering the First Mid-Illinois Bank, 601 S. Vine St., on Sept. 3, 2002, with the intent to commit a theft and the intent to commit a forgery. The other two counts accuse him of entering Busey Bank, 201 W. Main St., on Oct. 2, again with the intent to commit a theft and the intent to commit a forgery.
Chounard came to the Urbana police department Thursday and was arrested on the murder warrant that had been obtained earlier in the day, according to Metzler.
?He was identified several days ago during the course of the investigation about him possibly being involved in the shooting,? Metzler said. ?We were able to follow enough leads that we felt comfortable with him being a suspect and we were able to get enough information that we were able to obtain a warrant for his arrest.?