UPDATE, 4:45 P.M.:
CHAMPAIGN — Law-enforcement officials shared few new details in an afternoon press conference about a Wednesday morning shooting that left a man and Officer Christopher Oberheim dead and another officer injured, saying they didn’t want to compromise the ongoing investigation.
Police Chief Anthony Cobb declined to share the name of the officer who was hurt, and when asked whether a domestic dispute indeed happened at the north Champaign apartment complex, Illinois State Police Capt. Jason Henderson said the details “are yet to be completely confirmed” but that it related to the shooting.
“This is only the first day of this investigation,” Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said. “We have reviewed video from the scene. We are absolutely committed to being as transparent as possible, as soon as possible. But this is only the first day. We still have evidence to collect. There are still witnesses to interview. And we cannot release the video or details of the investigation at this time without affecting the integrity of the entire investigation.”
She said her office will review the entire incident “and determine if there were any violations of Illinois criminal law.”
UPDATE, 3:30 P.M.:
Among those expected to speak at a 4 p.m. news conference in Champaign:
Police Chief Anthony Cobb; City Manager Dorothy David; Mayor Deb Feinen; Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz; and Illinois State Police.
We'll carry the news conference live on WDWS 1400-AM. Listen here
UPDATE. 1:15 P.M.:
CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign County coroner has identified the man killed in an exchange of gunfire with Champaign police early Wednesday outside a north Champaign apartment complex.
Coroner Duane Northrup said Darion Marquise Lafayette, 24, of Champaign was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officer Christopher Oberheim, 44, a veteran of the midnight shift, was also shot and died later at Carle Foundation Hospital. Another unidentified officer was shot and is expected to survive his wounds.
Autopsies on Lafayette and Oberheim are scheduled for Thursday.
Champaign County court records show Mr. Lafayette has previous arrests for domestic violence involving three different females and drug possession.
In 2017, he pleaded guilty to violation of bail bond in connection with a July 12, 2017, incident for which he was charged with aggravated domestic battery, domestic battery and criminal damage to property. The charges alleged he bit one woman and broke the phone of another in that case.
As part of his sentence, he was ordered to get mental-health and substance-abuse evaluations. Court records show he completed his probation in October 2019.
That same month, he was charged again with aggravated domestic battery stemming from an incident in Urbana. He pleaded guilty to that and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years of probation.
In between those cases, he was charged in September 2018 with possession of less than 5 grams of methamphetamine and was sentenced to 30 months of probation. He was discharged from probation just last month.
UPDATE, 12:15 p.m.:
CHAMPAIGN — Police report that Officer Christopher Oberheim, a 13-year veteran of the department, was killed in the exchange of gunfire early Wednesday at a north Champaign apartment complex while responding to a call for a domestic dispute.
"A true professional and devoted public servant, Officer Oberheim is remembered for his heroism, bravery, and the oath of office he honorably upheld in his commitment to duty," Chief Anthony Cobb said in a statement. "The Champaign Police Department, and the entire city of Champaign organization, expresses its deepest condolences to Officer Oberheim's family, friends and loved ones.
"I also want to express my care and support for all members of the Champaign Police Department who are mourning the passing of their friend and colleague."
Officer Oberheim, 44, who lived in Monticello, worked for the Decatur Police Department for seven years prior to coming to Champaign.
Several emergency vehicles — many with their sirens sounding — lined University Avenue on Wednesday morning outside Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.
Officer Oberheim is the third Champaign police officer to be killed in the line of duty.
The first was Thomas Dodsworth, who was shot and killed July 6, 1913, when attempting to arrest two bootlegging suspects in north Champaign. The police chief at the time was also shot in the incident but survived. Dodsworth had been on the force for eight years.
On Nov. 25, 1967, Officer Robert Tatman was fatally shot in his patrol car on West Church Street about 200 yards west of Mattis Avenue. His killer, who used Tatman's own service weapon, has never been found. Tatman's body was found near his squad car with the engine running and his beacon light still flashing. Tatman, 27, had been on the force for five years.
As a softball family, we would like to give our love and support to the Oberheim friends and family at this time.— Monticello Sages Softball (@sages_softball) May 19, 2021
Chris Oberheim was the ultimate girl dad and was so proud of his girls. He has given so much to the program and we are blessed to have known him. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/4uCdzZ55fP
In a statement, Monticello Superintendent Vic Zimmerman said Officer Oberheim “was very involved in the lives of his four daughters, three of which currently attend our schools. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
“Police officers, firefighters and other first responders put their lives on the line every day to ensure that the rest of us are safe — they are there when we need them during our most difficult times and are often not appreciated for their daily work," Zimmerman said. "Tragedies like this bring out the best in all of us as we rally around them and their families during difficult times.
“The Monticello school district, the city of Monticello and all of Officer Oberheim's fellow officers will rally around the Oberheim family during this time."
One of Officer Oberheim's daughters, Hannah, tweeted late Wednesday morning: "My heart is completely broken. Due to the senseless act of someone who had no regard for life, I will never hear my dad laugh, get another hug, or be walked down the aisle one day with him by my side. Dad, you are my hero and I will spend the rest of my life missing you."
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued the following statement early Wednesday afternoon:
“I offer my deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Chris Oberheim. Officer Oberheim lost his life serving his community, and we honor his bravery. May his memory be a blessing to those who knew and loved him.
“My thoughts are also with the officer who is still hospitalized. I pray for a swift recovery.
“These events should serve as a reminder to all that police officers go to work each day not knowing if they will return home to their families. I learned about this tragedy as I was meeting with federal and local prosecutors and other law-enforcement authorities to focus on how we can collaborate to fight the increase of violent crime in central Illinois. We must recognize the courage and service of officers who are on the front lines of this effort, and we pray for their safety as they protect our communities.”
Illinois Senator Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, read the following statement Wednesday morning on the Senate floor:
"This morning, I found out that one of my best friends in the world was shot while on duty as a Champaign police officer responding to a domestic call — and while he is in stable condition, his partner, Officer Chris Oberheim, gave his life serving to protect those whom he had never met.
"My friend is a stand-up citizen, coached my son's Little League team, volunteers faithfully at our local community's AWANA church program for kids, and is defined by his faith. And while I do not know Officer Oberheim, this morning, I talked to numerous people who do.
"Chris was a father of four and husband, a softball coach and a veteran of both the Champaign Police Department as well as the Decatur Police Department, where he still has family and numerous friends continuing to serve in law enforcement — all of whom are mourning his loss today. I also talked to the Monticello schools superintendent, who noted the enormity of the loss for the Monticello community in Chris' passing. Both of these men displayed the courage and selfless sacrifice that defines our brave men and women in blue.
"Please join me in praying for Chris' family, the successful recovery of my friend who was wounded, and to keep all of our officers in blue safe as they serve each of us. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers."
ORIGINAL STORY, published 7:15 a.m.:
CHAMPAIGN — One person is dead and two police officers injured following an exchange of gunfire early Wednesday at a north Champaign apartment complex.
A release from Champaign police said officers responded to a domestic dispute about 3:20 a.m. at the Town Center Apartments, 2413 N. Neil St.
Two officers got out of their cars and encountered an armed person with whom they exchanged gunfire. That person was killed.
One officer is described as being in critical condition and the other stable.
No names of the officers or the deceased have been released.
Illinois State Police are leading the investigation, assisted by Urbana and University of Illinois Police and the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.
It is routine for outside police agencies to investigate shootings involving officers from another department.
The shootings come just days after Champaign police Chief Anthony Cobb publicly stated his fears that an officer-involved shooting could happen as the city deals with escalating gun violence.
There have been about 85 reports of shots fired in Champaign to date this year, with many injuries.
One man was killed in early April in a shooting on North Neil Street near the main post office.