One suspect arrested; police looking for more in four Champaign shootings
Updated at 9:12 p.m. on Sunday
CHAMPAIGN — While they hold one suspect in custody, police are hoping the public can assist in their search for more offenders in four shootings that have hit Champaign neighborhoods since Friday afternoon.
On Saturday night, police arrested 19-year-old Jamonte Hill of Champaign in connection with one of those shootings that occurred Friday afternoon in the 1100 block of Mimosa Drive. No one is believed to have been injured in that particular incident, but a car was damaged by the gunfire.
Hill was arrested in April 2012 on charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, when police alleged he shot two men in north Champaign. Those charges were later dropped when a key witness recanted his version of the story.
Hill has a drug-related conviction from last year and is awaiting trial on another. He was scheduled for a pre-trial hearing in that case on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, there were no updates on how any of the shooting victims are doing. As many as six men were wounded in two of the four shootings — three men on Friday night and three on Saturday night.
Some were taken to the hospital, but police spokeswoman Rene Dunn said on Sunday that she could not comment on their conditions.
“From what we saw when they left the scene, everyone was alive and breathing,” Dunn said. “Some appeared to be non-life-threatening. Others, we’re not sure because we’re not medical professionals.”
Whether or not all four shootings were related is still unclear, Dunn said.
“That’s what we’re investigating,” she said. “It appears to be rival groups that have this dispute, but again we’re not sure if every incident is related.”
The violence has Champaign-Urbana community groups calling for a ceasefire. They will hold a news conference today to rally against the crimes.
“Enough is enough. Enough is enough,” said Lekevie Johnson, the pastor at Jericho Missionary Baptist Church.
He said residents of the area are scared for themselves and their children.
“There is a reluctancy to even walk outside of your door,” Johnson said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Herb Burnett, who owns Suits By Soouljah on Bradley Avenue, will be part of that news conference, too. He said that if community groups do not stand up to the violence, it will send a message that they condone it, and that’s not the case.
“No more bloodshed now,” Burnett said. “That’s the bottom line. It has to stop.”
He thinks that being vocal in opposition to the shootings can go a long way.
“You have people that can’t even be free to roam in their neighborhoods or their yards,” Burnett said. “We have little kids, we have elderly.”
Police are focusing their investigative efforts in the north and northwest parts of the city, where all four shootings took place. Witnesses have been somewhat helpful, Dunn said.
“We’re getting some cooperation, we‘re getting some information,” she said. “It’s a mixed bag.”
Police are reaching out to the public in hopes of collecting more information. Dunn said police are confident that somebody knows the offenders, and police are strongly encouraging anyone with information to “step up” before somebody else gets hurt.
“We want to stop any further bloodshed and will exhaust every available option to achieve this goal. All of these shootings placed innocent people in our neighborhoods at risk,” Deputy Chief Joseph Gallo said in a press release. “There are a lot or resources in the community and we are confident that there is someone out there who can help us solve this problem.”
Anyone with information regarding who may be responsible may call Champaign police at 351-4545 or Champaign County Crimestoppers at 373-8477. Information may also be sent anonymously online at http://www.373tips.com or by cellphone text message by sending CCTIP plus the information to CRIMES (274637).
Police are still searching for the vehicles and suspects involved in these incidents: A red 1990s work truck, with filler putty on the side of the truck near the bottom; and a Chrysler Pacifica or a silver Nissan Murano.
Four shootings in Champaign
One suspect is in custody after four shootings occurred in Champaign on Friday and Saturday:
— 1:15 p.m. Friday: 1100 block of Mimosa Drive. No one is hurt, but two cars are damaged by gunfire.
— 7:28 p.m. Friday: 400 block of East Washington Street. Three men between the ages of 18 and 20 are struck with gunfire and sent to the hospital with apparently non-life-threatening injuries after a drive-by shooting.
— 12:10 p.m. Saturday: 1300 block of North Hickory Street. Multiple shots reportedly fired from a blue Chrysler 300 car occupied by four or five males in their late teens or early 20s.
— 7:54 p.m. Saturday: 1200 block of West Bradley Avenue. Three men are shot. Two are taken to the hospital; the third did not seek medical attention.