URBANA — University of Illinois police are looking for victims of suspected paintball attacks on campus this week after they made seven arrests in two incidents only two days apart.
UI police Lt. Matt Myrick said he believes some people may have been hit with paintballs but did not call police. Police are hoping those victims come forward as they continue to investigate.
The first incident occurred on around 10 p.m. Tuesday outside Sherman Hall, 601 E. John St., C, where the UI police street crimes unit observed some men getting out of a car, running around a parking lot, getting back into the car and leaving at a high speed, Myrick said.
Police followed that car to the 500 block of South Neil Street before stopping it. While they were on the stop, Myrick said, police received a call from a woman who believed she had been hit by a BB.
"It certainly would appear that she got struck by these folks that the street crimes officer saw," Myrick said.
According to a UI police report, officers arrested four Champaign men for reckless conduct: Michael M. Dunbar, 19; Matthew T. Durham, 18; Amani J. Howard, 18; and Sheldon C. Knox, 19.
"My suspicion is that (the woman who called wasn't) the only person they struck that night," Myrick said.
A separate group of men allegedly attacked pedestrians in a similar way on Thursday night around 11 p.m., Myrick said.
He said a UI police officer heard a noise he recognized as shots from a paintball gun.
"He heard that noise, recognized it, and knew that we had been getting calls recently — and when I say recently, I think that means over the last couple days — that people have been getting hit with these things," Myrick said.
The officer followed and pulled over a suspicious vehicle in the 600 block of East Healey Street, C. Three men eventually were arrested after police found three Airsoft BB guns, a paintball gun and 500 paintballs in their car during the traffic stop.
"They admitted that they were using the paintball gun to shoot at some people on the sidewalk," Myrick said.
The three men were arrested for mob action and reckless conduct: Stephen J. Bobo, 19, of Champaign; Anthony McClinton, 18, of Champaign; and Justin William, 22, of Urbana, according to a UI police report.
Myrick said he does not see anything that ties the two groups together, and it is not the first time police have received complaints about pedestrians being struck with objects.
But the timing is strange, he said.
"Two different incidents in two days is kind of unusual," Myrick said.
He said investigators are still looking for victims who did not initially call police. He is encouraging anyone who believes they were hit with a paintball or BB to call the Champaign County dispatch center at 333-8911 or UI police at 333-1216.