CHAMPAIGN — Police have stepped up patrols in the north and northwest sides of the city in the wake of five shootings over a four-day period.
And Deputy Police Chief Troy Daniels promised there will be additional arrests in connection with the incidents.
Daniels said the Champaign Police Department has increased patrols in the neighborhoods affected by the recent shootings.
"Our own officers are at work in the north and northwest parts of the city to keep the streets safe and to find the suspects and fugitives involved with these cases," Daniels said on Tuesday evening. "We are putting police officers in a much higher concentration in these areas. Any time somebody uses a gun in one of our neighborhoods, especially in neighborhoods where there are children, that becomes a top priority for us."
Daniels said police have also been canvassing the areas where they think suspects may be hiding out.
"I'm extremely proud of the job our officers have been doing and the arrests they have made so far," Daniels said. "Every time they come to the scene of one of these incidents, they put their lives on the line."
Daniels said Champaign police are also receiving assistance from the U.S. marshal's service, Urbana police, University of Illinois police, the Champaign County sheriff's office, state police and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force as part of a concerted effort to identify people involved in the shootings and to arrest them.
In addition to the three people arrested so far, Daniels guaranteed that additional arrests will be made and that Champaign police will be doing everything they can to bring those arrested to justice.
"I guarantee you and the people of our community that there will be more arrests in the near future," Daniels said. "We have an identified many of the people involved, and we will use every legal means available to make sure we arrest them and incarcerate them as soon as possible."
Daniels said it is extremely rare to have so many shootings, many of them causing injuries, in such a short period of time in Champaign.
He said at least six people are known to have been injured from gunshots since Friday, but he added that it doesn't appear that any of the victims have received life-threatening injuries.
Daniels said at least some of the shootings are related to one another, but he declined to say which ones until the investigation has been concluded.
He said that many of the recent incidents involve members of multiple street gangs, but police are not releasing the names of the street gangs at this time.
"Some of these shootings are gang-related, and many of the young men involved in these incidents have been involved in street gangs," Daniels said.
He said police have an idea what the street gangs are feuding over, but officers aren't making that information public while the investigation continues.
Daniels said that Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb has been out of state taking part in a training program, but he added that Cobb has been in continual contact with Champaign police officers by email and has been directing the police force's response to the multiple shootings.
"It is unfortunate this happened while I was away at training, but I have complete confidence with our police force," Cobb told The News-Gazette on Tuesday night.
"I cannot remember any time in the history of our community in which we have had so many incidents like these in a short period of time. We would like to avoid another horrific incident in which an innocent bystander is injured or killed. We are taking all the steps needed to keep our community safe."
Daniels wouldn't say if or how many security cameras may have been near the scenes of the shootings or whether any security camera footage may have been helpful in investigating the crimes.
But Daniels did say that some participants in Champaign's community policing program have been helpful with the investigation.
"We have gotten information from a number of people from the community, and that information has provided us information to help solve some of these cases," Daniels said.
Daniels is encouraging anybody with information about one or more of the shootings to 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).
Crimestoppers will pay a reward if the information leads to an arrest.
"We know many of the suspects, but we still need the public's help," Daniels said.
Daniels is also appealing to the families of the victims to allow the police to do their work.
"If you are a loved one of someone involved with this, let the police handle this," Daniels said. "If you are a loved one of one of the shooters, stay away and call police or Crimestoppers."