With MAP: Police pledge to get shooters off the streets
Authorities need victims, witnesses to name names
Local police have a word of warning for anyone shooting guns at others: We will get you. Since March 13, Champaign police have documented 14 instances of shots being fired in several different neighborhoods around the city, most of them north of Washington Street.
Of those, police know of two people who were hit by the gunfire. Neither was seriously injured.
Here is a map of the Champaign incidents, provided by Champaign police.
In Urbana, there have been four reports in the last two months of shots fired, one of which involved a man being hit Monday in the buttocks by a bullet that went through an apartment where he was visiting.
"When the weather starts to get a little better and we start to have reports of shots fired and people being hit as well, we are clearly concerned," said Champaign police detective Sgt. Dave Griffet. "We don't want it to escalate like it did before."
He's referring to last June, when there were almost a dozen reported shootings in Champaign in three weeks that resulted in injury to eight men. No one died.
That, of course, is the overarching concern of police, but beyond that, they are concerned about the quality of life for law-abiding citizens.
"We're trying to get out in front of it the best we can by identifying those people involved in these events and doing what we can to have them be held accountable for the crimes they are committing and the things they are doing that are unacceptable and unsafe in our community," Griffet said.
Besides the men who were injured, Griffet said police aren't always able to quantify damage.
Some of the shootings involve men firing at each other from passing cars. Some of the gunfire has been directed at houses.
"Sometimes we don't recognize or realize the damage that may be caused by a bullet. It's hard to see where all these rounds hit," Griffet said.
Of the recent Champaign shootings, Griffet said there are some commonalities but not enough to identify a single reason they are happening so often.
"A lot of it is retaliation," he said, adding that police often hear the same suspect names come up.
"Regardless of what they believe their reasoning is for doing this, it is not acceptable at all because ultimately what's going to happen is these rounds that they fire are going to go down range and innocent people's lives can be taken or injured," he said.
Griffet said police are working their sources as intensively as they can to identify the shooters, arrest them and get them prosecuted. Their work is often hampered by victims and witnesses who are either unwilling or unable to supply information.
Such is the case in a March 29 shooting in the Bristol Park neighborhood north of Bradley Avenue and east of Market Street that resulted in non-life-threatening injuries to two men just before 3 a.m. that day. Police have put out a plea for information in that case through Crimestoppers.
In the most recent Urbana shooting, which happened just after 1 a.m. April 7 in the 1300 block of Brookstone Court in the new Hamilton on the Park public housing complex, the victims told police they didn't have any idea who could have been shooting into the north Urbana apartment.
Urbana police Lt. Bryant Seraphin said there was one woman upstairs and another woman and two men downstairs.
"They were just simply in there talking, at which point bullets started to come in through the back door, traveling through the building and hit the man who was inside in the living room," Seraphin recounted from the police reports.
He was a 20-year-old Champaign man just visiting who was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, treated and released.
Several other rounds that didn't connect with people that morning whizzed through the apartment and out the front window, Seraphin said.
Seraphin said another shooting was reported on Brookstone Court at about 11:30 p.m. March 17. Given the proximity of the housing complex to northeast Champaign, Seraphin said police are investigating potential connections between those shootings and the ones in Champaign.
There was also a report of shots being fired around Douglass Park, near the dividing line of the cities, around 3:15 p.m. April 3. Griffet said there were two cars passing on Fifth Street that afternoon firing at each other.
"They didn't hit either car, but these bullets travel well beyond the vehicle. Having something like that happen during the day where there's an opportunity for anyone nearby to be struck with the gunfire would be tragic. We do not want that to happen," he said.
Monday's Urbana shooting prompted a Tuesday meeting between Champaign and Urbana detectives to swap information.
"We're going to use all the resources we have. We participate with the U.S. Marshal's Task Force. We will work with Urbana. Last year, we had assistance from the University of Illinois police and the county (sheriff's office) at various times when events were going on and we needed additional directed patrols. We did that and we will do it again," he said.
Both Griffet and Seraphin urge anyone with information on any shooting to contact Champaign police at 217-351-4545 or Urbana police at 217-384-2320.
Information can be submitted anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 217-373-8477, going online at 373tips.com or texting CCTIP plus the information to CRIMES (274637).
Crimestoppers will pay a reward if the information leads to an arrest. Cash rewards are also paid for information on other felony crimes or fugitives in the Champaign County area.