UPDATED: Man fatally shot in car outside Urbana townhouse party

UPDATED: Man fatally shot in car outside Urbana townhouse party

URBANA — The fatal shooting early Saturday of a Champaign man marked the first homicide in Urbana this year and brought to about 60 the number of shootings in Champaign, Urbana and the county for 2018.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said Martez Taylor, 27, was pronounced dead at Carle Foundation Hospital in the emergency room at 1:18 a.m.

Less than an hour earlier, police said he was shot as he sat in a car outside a home in southeast Urbana.

At 12:42 a.m. Saturday, police were sent to the 1900 block of East Florida Avenue, a residential area just a few doors east of Thomas Paine Elementary School.

Mr. Taylor had been at a party at a townhouse that Lt. Rich Surles said was attended by “lots” of people.

“The victim goes out and gets in the car. The shooter comes up to the car and shoots the victim while he is seated in the car,” Surles said.

Friends of Mr. Taylor drove up within moments, Surles said, scooped him out of his car, put him in the other car and drove him to Carle. Surles said he had been shot multiple times in the torso.

The scene was a bit chaotic initially because officers saw the car rushing the mortally wounded man to the hospital leaving the area as they were arriving.

“We have interviewed multiple witnesses and we expect to speak to more,” Surles said early Saturday.
Surles said the friend who pulled up right after the shooting told police he did not see it happen.

Surles said that, as of July 9, the last time he had an official count, there had been approximately 35 shootings in Champaign, 17 in Urbana and three in the county.

But just last weekend, a man was shot in the middle of the day in the 1400 block of Queens Way, the same block in Champaign where Mr. Taylor, a convicted drug dealer, lived.

Champaign County sheriff’s deputies found a 22-year-old Champaign man down in a front yard with at least two gunshot wounds to his leg. He had been shot about 12:46 p.m. from a passing vehicle, said sheriff’s Lt. Curt Apperson. After a night in the hospital, he was released.

Apperson said his detectives continue to actively investigate that shooting, but as is often the case in crimes of violence, police are receiving “limited cooperation.”

“We have been getting tips that we are tracking down. Tips are not probable cause. We need people to come forward,” said Apperson, who compared notes Saturday with Surles about Mr. Taylor’s death.

“We have nothing to confirm that any of these shootings are related. But when you have two victims who live in close proximity to each other, obviously law enforcement takes that into consideration,” Apperson said.

In December, a Champaign County jury acquitted Mr. Taylor of six counts of heroin delivery that had allegedly happened early in 2017. Police testified that Mr. Taylor enlisted his heroin-addicted uncle to make four deliveries while Mr. Taylor was accused of making two. All the sales took place in the Dobbins Downs subdivision in northwest Champaign where he was living.

Mr. Taylor had convictions for possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, possession of a controlled substance and obstructing justice.

Anyone with information on his murder is asked to call Urbana police at 217-384-2320 or, if wishing to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 217-373-8477. Tips can also be submitted online at 373tips.com or via the free “P3 Tips” app.

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