Shooting spree

Shooting spree

Violent crime in northwest Champaign is taking a toll on residents.

Another in a series of periodic shootings in Champaign has raised alarm bells. People are naturally worried and confused by what's occurred. The best response would be to do something about it.

That requires cooperation with law enforcement, a not-always-popular option in minority neighborhoods. Unless police and prosecutors get cooperation in identifying, arresting and prosecuting those responsible, nothing will change.

There already has been one life lost, that of 26-year-old Allen M. Redding. He was the victim of multiple gunshot wounds about 5:50 p.m. Tuesday in the 1500 block of Hedge Road. Authorities attributed the shooting to a dispute between rival gangs.

But if it's not gangs, it's about drugs sold or simply guns wielded by irresponsible young men who seem indifferent to human life, even their own. Further, there is no guarantee that the death toll will be limited to the participants in this criminal madness. Innocent bystanders can and have been caught in the crossfire.

It was not unusual that last week's fatal shooting was witnessed by young children who were playing nearby. Think of how witnessing that kind of mindless cruelty can skew the world view and emotional outlook of impressionable children.

This kind of senseless violence now is common in some large and mid-sized cities across the country. It's easy to point the finger at Chicago, where certain neighborhoods are virtual shooting galleries. But even though the scale of the mayhem is lower in Champaign-Urbana, the problem is the same here.

Between June 10 and and June 23, Champaign police dealt with 10 shootings. None was fatal, but that's just a matter of luck.

Police responded in force, and Chief Anthony Cobb, who joined community residents for a "peace walk" along Garden Hills Drive and Hedge Road, has promised a crackdown on the lawbreakers. Chief Cobb's words carry special credibility because he was reared in these very neighborhoods.

But authorities can only tamp down the violence if they do not get the help they need from the neighborhood residents to end it.

Northwest Champaign residents are in a tough spot. It's only reasonable to fear retaliation if they cooperate with police. There's also the cultural reluctance to provide assistance. But unless those being victimized put up a united front, demand safety and tell all they know, the fear that marks daily life will not disappear.

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