Mentors share program after 16-year-old arrested for illegally having a gun

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — People who work to mentor young boys were troubled to hear a teenager was arrested for having a gun illegally.

The 16-year-old is charged with unlawful use of a weapon. He was arrested on Tuesday on Garden Hills Drive. Police say he had a sawed-off shotgun in the home. Officials suspect him to be connected to gun violence in city, but they would not say which specific shootings they think he was involved in.

It’s been a year filled with gun violence in Champaign. There have been more than 90 shootings so far, compared to 76 total from last year.

It was disheartening for Carlos Harvey to hear about what the teenager is accused of. He’s a life coach for a program called Boyz2Men. They mentor young boys from sixth through twelfth grade. Harvey says, “We try to provide them with resources that are in the community that they absolutely don’t know much about.”

The case of the 16-year-old is exactly what Boyz2Men is trying to prevent. Harvey says, “We’re trying to expose them to new, bigger, better things in life so they can understand there’s more to life than violence and the things that are hurting our community.”

Their goal is to steer them away from a life of violence and help them find more fulfilling opportunities. Harvey says, “We’ve been on several trips. We’ve been to several businesses in the community to show them something different behind the scenes and what it looks like to have a job and to do something productive.”

On Thursday night the Champaign-Urbana Area Project is having a meeting to talk about the recent violence. That starts at 6:00 at King School in the multi-purpose room.

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