URBANA — Two men have been criminally charged in connection with the latest in a spree of north Champaign shootings since Friday.
Assistant State's Attorney Scott Bennett said one man admitted to police he had a gun and fired it at a car Monday, sending bullets into a nearby occupied home. The second man was allegedly the man who was driving the shooter.
Bennett said Kyantae Jones-Weatherall, 18, of the 500 block of East Bradley Avenue, Champaign, was charged Tuesday with aggravated discharge of a firearm for allegedly firing at an occupied car near Fifth and Vine streets and reckless discharge of a firearm for allegedly firing shots that went through a house in the 700 block of North Fifth Street, where three women were present.
The aggravated discharge of a gun is the more serious charge, carrying potential penalties ranging from probation to four to 15 years in prison.
Aaron Kirby, 19, of the 200 block of West Ells Avenue, Champaign, was charged with obstructing justice after he allegedly tried to cover up a 9 mm bullet that fell from his pocket when police asked him to produce identification.
Bennett said Jones-Weatherall and Kirby were found Monday night at a home in the 300 block of East Hill Street after the home owner gave police permission to search.
Police went there in response to a shooting that occurred earlier at Fifth and Vine streets.
About 7:45 p.m., witnesses saw a maroon car being followed by a silver Monte Carlo. When the maroon car pulled into a driveway to turn around, a passenger in the Monte Carlo — later identified at Jones-Weatherall — leaned out the passenger side and allegedly fired several shots at the maroon car.
Bullets went in the south side of a home in the 700 block of North Fifth Street, which was occupied by one woman, Bennett said. There were also two women outside that residence, one in the yard and one on the porch.
As police were heading to the call, one officer saw the silver Monte Carlo in front of the Hill Street address. Bennett said one of the men who was shot Friday night in the 400 block of East Washington Street — the second of the five weekend shootings — lives at that address.
At the Hill Street home, Bennett said police found a 9 mm handgun in a drain pit in the backyard. They noted Jones-Weatherall was bleeding heavily from his left ring finger, which he claimed to have cut on a chain link fence, Bennett said.
Bennett said Jones-Weatherall admitted he was the passenger in the silver Monte Carlo and identified Kirby as the driver. He told police they were riding around when the driver of the maroon car fired in their direction. He admitted to returning fire to protect himself and Kirby.
Bennett said when police went to speak with Kirby, they asked him for identification.
"When he reached into his pocket to get his ID, a 9 mm bullet came out of his pocket and landed on the ground. He looked at the bullet and the officer and quickly put his foot over the bullet in an attempt to conceal it and claimed that he had found the bullet on the ground earlier in the day," Bennett said.
Bennett said Jones-Weatherall was also wanted on a warrant issued last Wednesday for domestic battery and aggravated battery to a pregnant person in connection with an alleged beating on May 26 to an 18-year-old Champaign woman.
Their arrests Monday evening came hours after local ministers and other community members pleaded with the shooters to end the violence.
On Saturday, Deputy Police Chief Troy Daniels said police believe the violence stemmed from feuds between rival gangs.
So far, police have identified several men involved but have arrested only three.
On Tuesday, Judge Richard Klaus set bond for Jones-Weatherall at $1 million for the shooting charges and told him to be back in court July 23. He's being held on an additional $25,000 bond for the battery charges.
Kirby was told to be back in court June 18 for a probable cause hearing. Klaus set his bond at $100,000.