CHAMPAIGN — A shooting Tuesday that left a man hurt is the 55th incident of gun violence in the city to date in 2019 — “a little bit high for this time of year,” said police Chief Anthony Cobb.
During the Community Coalition’s monthly meeting Wednesday, Cobb said the shooting that took place in the 700 block of Crescent Drive — just across the road from Centennial High School — was “concerning” as summer winds down.
He said this summer has seen a higher number of shootings than in years past, with 41 this time last year, 37 in the summer of 2017, and 53 and 50, respectively, for 2016 and 2015.
“It’s a little high for a five-year average,” Cobb said. “We’re concerned about the gun violence we’re seeing.”
Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman also gave updates on a shooting Sunday morning following a party in the Dobbins Downs neighborhood. Two were shot in that incident.
“Luckily, the investigation is progressing, and more information should be available by the end of next week,” he said.
Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin said since the coalition’s meeting last month, there have been two shootings in Urbana, both of them “minimal,” with a couple of bullet casings found and no injuries or property damage reported.
Seraphin also took time Wednesday for a show-and-tell session. He brought with him a display case filled with what appeared to be several handguns and asked members of the coalition to identify which were real and which weren’t. The answer: None were real; all were realistic-looking BB guns.
“We’ve used it for years and years,” Seraphin said of the display. “When it’s dark in an alley or when a young man has a BB gun, it’s nearly impossible for a person to tell. When the police come, they will not respond with a BB gun.”
Seraphin said he brought the display to the coalition because on Sunday afternoon, police were made aware of a group of teens carrying what looked like handguns. One 16-year-old, Seraphin said, was ultimately found to have a BB gun that resembled a .45-caliber handgun, along with two others.
On Tuesday, Seraphin added, police responded again to a report of a young man with a firearm and found it was the same teenager from two days earlier.
“We asked for help from his parents and talked with them, but two days later, it was the same exact behavior,” Seraphin said. “This is just to make sure the community knows the things we deal with. I do not want one of our officers to shoot and kill a young person with a BB gun.”
Urbana police said on Facebook they are urging parents and guardians “to talk with their kids about the dangers of walking around with any type of BB or Airsoft guns in their waistbands. No good can come from it.”