URBANA — Urbana police investigators are asking the public to help them find the person or people responsible for the death of an Urbana teen this week.

Coroner Duane Northrup identified Montrell Emery, 16, an Urbana High School student, as the person who died early Wednesday from a single gunshot wound to the head.

“If there’s a sentiment I could relay, it’s that we need assistance and the cooperation of the community. We are here to help and urge people not to take matters into their own hands,” said Urbana police Lt. Michael Cervantes.

“Anytime there’s a situation where someone loses their life, emotions run high. We don’t want any more bloodshed.”

Cervantes, three other detectives and a civilian investigator in his division have been working continuously since the shooting, running down a number of leads.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, Urbana police were sent to an apartment in the 2400 block of Prairie Green, where they found Mr. Emery mortally wounded in a hallway. He did not live at the apartment complex, and Cervantes said police are investigating why he was there.

He was pronounced dead at Carle Foundation Hospital at 1:32 a.m. Wednesday.

“I don’t believe this was a random act based on the information we’ve collected at this time,” said Cervantes. However, he was unable to speculate on any motive for the shooting and did not want to share many details of what they have learned.

“If we would have had license-plate readers … it would have been extremely useful in gathering potential witnesses to develop leads,” he said.

Urbana City Council members have declined to approve requests to fund that technology, leaving Urbana as the only major law enforcement agency in the county without it.

Multiple shots were fired early Wednesday, but only one hit Mr. Emery, and it was fatal. His was the first homicidal death of the year in Urbana.

By this time last year, there had been two shooting deaths in Urbana. The city suffered three murders total last year, with arrests made in two.

Anyone with information is asked to call Urbana police at 217-384-2320. Those wishing to remain anonymous and possibly collect a reward should contact Crime Stoppers at 217-373-8477, 373tips.com or via the P3 Tips mobile app. Crime Stoppers will pay cash rewards of $5,000 for tips that lead to an arrest in any Champaign County homicide.


Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).