Answers sought after latest fatal shooting

Authorities hope someone with information will come forward

DANVILLE — About five weeks ago, Danville police officers began doing extra patrols in the city, working specified areas in response to shootings and other incidents that have occurred in recent months, according to Public Safety Director Larry Thomason.

Early Friday morning, Danville police responded to their fifth homicide of the year, and the third since late May.

Danville police detectives are investigating the incident that happened at 3:30 a.m. Friday, when Danville police were notified of a man found in a grassy area east of the 900 block of Belton Drive in the Fair Oaks Public Housing Complex and west of Moore Street. Police were told that the man had possibly been shot.

Officers responding found the man and confirmed he was the victim of a gunshot. He was rush by Medix Ambulance to Presence United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

The name of the victim had not yet been released Friday night, pending notifications by the Vermilion County coroner's office. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday.

According to Danville police, it appears the shooting took place in the area where the man was found.

Thomason said the additional patrols continue, but this latest shooting only highlights the fact that Danville police cannot be every place all the time.

"We are relying now on people who need to come forward and tell us what they have heard," said Thomason, adding that people with information about the shooting can call Crimestoppers, which allows them to remain anonymous, and police are urging anyone with any information or knowledge of the incident to call the police department's criminal investigation unit at 431-2245 or Crimestoppers at 446-TIPS.

It's the fifth homicide in the city this year, and marks more than a dozen shooting incidents in 2013.

It's the second homicide in the Moore Street area in the last two months. On May 21, Danville police rushed to a house at 912 Moore St. and found an 18-year-old man shot on the living room floor and a woman who had been shot, lying in the hallway.

The woman, Latifah D.L. Cross, 21, of Chicago, was a relative of the occupant of the house, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. According to police, witnesses reported that a man with a rifle-type weapon approached the house and fired from the street.

Pinnie Rowell, 68, has lived on Moore Street for 18 years, just a few houses down from the homicide in May and near where the shooting victim was found early Friday morning. She said she is "real concerned" about the safety of her neighborhood. She said when she first moved to Moore Street, it was "nice and peaceful." Rowell said most of the residents her age who had lived there for years as she has have moved out, and she wants to do the same. She said the shootings make her stay inside her house. After the May shooting, Rowell said she went to stay with her daughter for a while. She said her son is helping her look for a new place to live.

Others in the community also have concerns about the shootings. Last month, a group of citizens attended a Danville City Council meeting to make a statement about recent violence.

Pastor Thomas Miller, senior minister at New Life Church of Faith in Danville, voiced his concerns about recent shootings and other incidents of crime and drug activity to city leaders at the city council meeting. Miller joined church officials from the Mount Zion Word of Life Church and followed up his public statement at the city council meeting by organizing an anti-violence community meeting on June 29 at the Mount Zion church, 1535 E. Fairchild St. It was a gathering for city leaders, school leaders and citizens concerned about the violence in the community to come together and create a strategy how to send a message that the community is not going to tolerate the killing of young people and other criminal activity. Miller said he wants to discuss organizing more neighborhood crime watches and some type of gun turn-in program.

In regard to this latest shooting, Thomason said the Chicago man was found on public housing property at Fair Oaks. He said Danville police work with the public housing authority to remove people who are barred from the complex, are not residents there or don't have permission to be there. Thomason said that is one of the functions of the police unit that works that location.

But, Thomason said, police cannot be everywhere, and with the exception of community members with a lot or even a little information about crimes talking to police, increasing patrols in targeted areas is the department's best way to try to quell some of this criminal activity. He said the extra patrol officers are working in addition to officers doing the regular patrols, and they are working irregular hours and days.

Thomason said in regard to this latest shooting that it's too early to give any information about what may have led to the shooting of this man. Thomason said he's obviously a Chicago-based individual and police have information about him and his relationship to different groups, but cannot speculate about what his murder is related to or what may be the motive.

"But again, this can be resolved and police can be helped tremendously by people opening up, whether they have small or large pieces of information, by calling Crimestoppers or the detectives with the police in Danville," he said.

Police in Champaign-Urbana have also been dealing with a rash of shootings this year and have been trying to take proactive measures.

Thomason said teams of Danville police officers have met with law enforcement in Champaign-Urbana to communicate on various issues.

"We realize, in some instances, there is a link, and in other instances, we're not sure, but as far as sharing of information across county lines, that is absolutely going on all the time," he said.

Danville shootings in 2013

More than a dozen shootings have occurred in Danville this year, some fatal. Here is a list of some of the incidents that Danville police have investigated or continue to investigate.

Jan. 19: Danville police respond to a call of shots fired at the Green Meadow Apartments on Beechwood Drive, immediately north of the Fair Oaks Housing complex. Police found a gunshot victim, Antwanne M. Hall, who was wanted by Danville police on multiple charges in two other shootings: a Jan. 17 shooting in which an 18-year-old was shot in the shoulder in the 900 block of Moore Street, which is immediately east of the Fair Oaks Housing Complex, and the Dec. 20, 2012, shooting of a 23-year-old in the 900 block of Redden Court in the Fair Oaks Housing Complex.

Feb. 5: A 23-year-old Chicago man, Deandre R. Dunbar, was fatally shot in the Fair Oaks public housing complex in the 900 block of Lewis Lane. According to police, witnesses said several people were involved in a confrontation.

April 13: A 26-year-old Danville man, Jamaal Sampson, was fatally shot at a residence in the 1500 block East Fairchild Street in Danville. People were leaving a gathering when a single shot was fired.

9 p.m. May 20: Police were called to the 900 block of Wakely Drive in the Fair Oaks public housing complex and found a 21-year-old man who had been shot in the leg. He told police he was walking toward Moore Street, just east of the housing complex, when he was shot in the ankle area. Danville police issued a warrant for the arrest of Jermaine L. Williams, 17, of the 900 block of Hubbard Lane, in connection with the shooting, and Williams turned himself in to police more than a week after the incident. He was charged in Vermilion County Circuit Court with aggravated battery with a firearm.

1 a.m. May 21: A police officer in the Fair Oaks public housing complex heard numerous gunshots. Residents directed him to a house at 912 Moore St., immediately east of Fair Oaks, and found an 18-year-old man shot on the living room floor and a woman who had been shot, lying in the hallway. The woman, Latifah D.L. Cross, 21, of Chicago, was a relative of the occupant of the house, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses reported a man with a rifle-type weapon approached the house and fired from the street.

3:30 a.m. May 21: Police were called to the 900 block of Campbell Lane in the Fair Oaks complex and found a 24-year-old man who had been shot. His injury was minor, but the man reported that he had been at the scene of the earlier shooting on Moore Street.

June 2: A Danville man was dropping off a friend in the 400 block of North Collett Street when, according to police, he was shot by another individual in a vehicle driving by at 2:45 a.m.

June 5: An 18-year-old Danville man, Adam Riley, was fatally shot around 12 a.m. June 5 near Lincoln Park on Danville's west side. Morris L. Williams, 117, of Danville, was charged June 7 with two counts of first-degree murder in Riley's death.

July 4: Police respond to a grassy field east of the 900 block of Belton Drive in the Fair Oaks complex and find a 35-year-old Chicago man dead, victim of a gunshot. The name of the victim has not yet been released, pending notification of relatives.

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