UPDATED: Four teens arrested in assault near Illini Union

UPDATED: Four teens arrested in assault near Illini Union

UPDATE, 2:20 p.m.:

URBANA — Four Urbana teens are in police custody following a violent attack on a University of Illinois student Monday evening near the Quad.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Isaiah Conley, 18, and three other boys ages 13 and 16, used a brick to try to knock out the student and rob him of money that they planned to use to rent a hotel room to party.

Two of the teens told UI police that they had tried the same plan on three prior occasions Monday night but were unable to get close enough to a victim to carry it out.

Rietz laid out the facts of the attack for Judge Tom Difanis in detention hearings Wednesday afternoon for the three juveniles, all of whom will be held at the Champaign County Youth Detention Center until their next court appearance on Jan. 25. Difanis said it was a matter of "immediate and urgent necessity" that the teens be detained.

Conley, who listed an address in the 200 block of East Washington Street, Urbana, was charged Wednesday with attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery, both felonies, for his alleged role in Monday's attack. He remains in the Champaign County Jail.

Judge John Kennedy set Conley's bond at $75,000 and told him to be back in court on Jan. 17 for a probable-cause hearing. If convicted of attempted armed robbery, Conley faces penalties ranging from probation to four to 15 years in prison.

All four teens were arrested Tuesday night by UI police and charged with attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery, since the attack took place on a public sidewalk between the Illini Union and Altgeld Hall.

Rietz said about 5:40 p.m. Monday, the male student was walking alone on the sidewalk, wearing headphones, when he was approached by four young men who came out of nearby bushes and surrounded him. One of the teens spoke to him, so he removed his headphones, and another teen who had a handkerchief over his face hit him in the head with a brick.

The victim suffered a fractured cheekbone and was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital by ambulance.

Two of the youths told police that when the student didn't lose consciousness, they panicked and ran west to Wright Street, where they got on an MTD bus.

Rietz said the victim was able to give police physical descriptions of his attackers, including what they were wearing. Police obtained security video surveillance that showed the four teens inside and outside of the Illini Union and the attack itself. Police then sent out an all-campus alert with those descriptions.

Staff members at Cunningham Children’s Home received the alert and called police to say that the descriptions matched Conley and a 16-year-old boy who had been reported as runaways from the home on East Washington Street in Urbana. Later, police determined that another 16-year-old was a runaway from the home and that the 13-year-old had run away from his mother's home in Urbana.

Rietz said police later located all four teens at the Champaign Walmart on North Prospect Avenue, where they were trying to sell stolen cellphones at a kiosk that accepts used phones for cash. They had also planned to sell phones at a similar kiosk at Market Place Mall.

Rietz said the four had learned through social media that they had been identified and were trying to get cash to buy bus tickets to go to Minnesota, where Conley has relatives.

* * * * *

Original story, published 1:02 p.m.:

URBANA — An 18-year-old Urbana man has been charged in connection with an attack on a University of Illinois student Monday night near the Illini Union.

Isaiah Conley, 18, who listed an address in the 200 block of East Washington Street, Urbana, was arrested Tuesday night by UI police.

He was charged Wednesday with attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery, both felonies, for his alleged role in the Monday night attack. If convicted of the attempted armed robbery, Conley faces penalties ranging from probation to four to 15 years in prison.

Three juveniles were also arrested Tuesday for armed robbery, aggravated battery and mob action and scheduled to make court appearances Wednesday afternoon. Three of them were runaways from a group home operated by Cunningham Children's Home, according to State's Attorney Julia Rietz.

Conley was taken to the Champaign County Jail after speaking with investigators following his arrest. The others were taken to the Champaign County Youth Detention Center.

Around 5:40 p.m. Monday, a male UI student used an emergency phone to call police after being hit in the head with a brick.

The student said the group of four approached him on the sidewalk between Altgeld Hall and the Illini Union in the 1400 block of West Green Street, Urbana. One individual in the group attempted to engage the student in conversation; the student kept walking but the attacker hit him with the brick, police said.

The student said the group of four approached him on the sidewalk between Altgeld Hall and the Illini Union in the 1400 block of West Green Street, Urbana. One individual in the group attempted to engage the student in conversation; the student kept walking but the attacker hit him with the brick, police said.

The student was later taken to an area hospital with a non-life-threatening injury.

The alleged offenders told police they intended to rob the student but fled because the student was still conscious after being struck, according to the UI.

UI police sent out a Campus Safety Notice by email to the campus community following the attack.

Police said security-camera footage, along with tips from local police, social service agencies and community members helped identify the alleged offenders.

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CommonSenseless wrote on January 10, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Three of them were runaways from a group home operating by Cunningham Children's Home, according to State's Attorney Julia Rietz.

Is there a group home operated in the vicinity of CCH?  or is the group home operated by CCH? 

jparks wrote on January 10, 2018 at 11:01 pm

I wonder why Attempted Murder wouldn't be the original charge, and then you can plea bargain down from there.  These thugs have no way of knowing that a brick to the head can render a person unconsciouse but not potentially kill them.  Remember Reginald Denny?

yates wrote on January 11, 2018 at 10:01 am

Probation to 4 to 15 years in prison....for stalking somebody and hitting them in the head with a brick to commit robbery. Would probation even be on the table?

Reykjavik wrote on January 12, 2018 at 8:01 am

These four barely qualify as humans.  And now taxpayers will be paying a million or two for their multi-year incarceration, so our community is poorer. And upon release, these guys will be even more hardened, even less employable, and headed for trouble again.  Then they will father children, which will be malnourished, poorly educated, and violent.  

Thinking about a cycle like that, one can understand the popularity of politicians like Trump.