URBANA — An 11-year-old Champaign boy and his father are both in local jails Tuesday after the son told police the gun he fired into a group of his classmates at Centennial Park came from his dad’s safe.

Carl Montgomery, 37, was arraigned Tuesday afternoon for unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon before Judge Ben Dyer, while his son appeared minutes earlier before Judge Roger Webber to face a juvenile charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm.

Webber ordered that in order to protect the boy and the public, he should be held in the detention center until a May 31 hearing. Dyer set a $75,000 bond for the elder Montgomery and told him to be back in court July 11.

State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, who charged the father and son, said that about 7:15 p.m. Sunday, Champaign police were called to Centennial Park for a report of shots fired.

They learned from witnesses that a boy wearing a balaclava head and face covering walked toward a group of youngsters who were in the pavilion just east of the Leonhard Center on Sangamon Drive, pointed a gun in the direction of the structure and fired.

The group scattered, and as they ran to a nearby parking lot, the youth allegedly fired a second time.

Rietz said the alleged shooter and the youths he was shooting at are students at Jefferson Middle School who have had an ongoing beef. She was unaware of any prior police contacts for the boy.

Police found a bullet casing on the sidewalk and damage to a picnic table suggestive of it being hit with a bullet.

Police found the sixth-grader in the area with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun in his waistband and three .40-caliber rounds of ammunition in his front pants pocket as well as a balaclava.

Initially, he told police he got the gun from another person and that he only fired it in the air. Later, he said he took the gun from his father’s safe. A search of the child’s phone uncovered a picture of him holding the gun.

Police obtained a search warrant for Montgomery’s home and found a gun safe in his bedroom that contained an empty gun holster, gun cleaning kit and a gun box.

In other places in the bedroom police found .40-caliber ammunition, an empty box for .40-caliber ammunition and gun oil.

Montgomery denied ownership of those items. With previous convictions for driving under the influence, cannabis and driving under revocation, Montgomery is not allowed to possess weapons or ammunition. His girlfriend, who lives in the same home, also does not have a firearm owner’s identification card, Rietz said.

In court Tuesday, Assistant State’s Attorney Justin Umlah asked for a $500,000 bond for Montgomery. Assistant Public Defender Tammy Baer told Dyer that Montgomery has custody of four children ranging in age from 11 to 18, is employed full time as a forklift operator and has many relatives in the area, so he’s not a flight risk.

To be released, he’ll have to post $7,500 cash.


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).