CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Champaign Police Department held a news conference Wednesday afternoon after one of their officers was killed in a shooting incident that morning.
Officer Chris Oberheim was killed after a shootout early Wednesday morning. Oberheim and his partner responded to a domestic disturbance call at Town Center Apartments, but it ended with shots being exchanged. Oberheim and the suspect, Darion Lafayette, were both killed.
Oberheim was a 13-year veteran. He started with CPD in September 2008. Prior to coming to Champaign PD, he was an officer with the Decatur Police Department.
During the news conference, several members of law enforcement spoke about the tragic event. Champaign Chief Anthony Cobb said his entire organization is mourning the loss. “Public safety was more than just a job, it was his calling,” said Cobb.
The chief thanked the multiple law enforcement agencies who either stepped in to cover so his officers could take time to process or who sent their condolences.
Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen said she has stood by Chief Cobb as he has lead the department and now she will “hold him up” while he continues to lead them as well as mourn the loss of one of his officers. “I pray for all of our officers and their families and pray fervently for peace.”
Illinois State Police was one of the agencies called in to assist with the investigation of this shooting. Captain Jason Henderson, ISP Division of Criminal Investigation, said Oberheim and his partner had responded to the apartment complex for a domestic disturbance. He said they have not yet been able to get a lot of details pertaining to this incident confirmed as they continue to interview many witnesses. However, he was able to say there was a victim of the domestic disturbance and the two incidents were connected.
When asked about who initiated the gunfire, Henderson said that is still being investigated. He said he is urging a focus of people’s attention to the process, as it would determine what happened.
Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz echoed Henderson’s comments regarding how much is still left to process in regards to this investigation. She said Wednesday was the first day of the investigation. While they have interview witnesses and collected evidence, she said they still have a long way to go. She said they cannot release any video or further details without “affecting the integrity of the investigation.” She continued to say they will be reviewing the entire investigation to “see if there was any violation of Illinois law.”
Additionally, Rietz sent her condolences to the families who lost loved ones today. “What happened this morning in that parking lot is truly a tragedy for all of us.”
Right now, the name of the second officer is not being released. Chief Cobb said that officer is recovering.
Cobb also stated that they are acknowledging that the public wants to know the details of what happened and is acknowledging that there is video. However, he said they need to process and are going to be transparent with this investigation and release information when appropriate.
When asked about what is being done for his staff, Cobb said he is trying to be there for them. He said they are grieving together.
Chief Cobb stated his officers know that gun violence caused trauma “and it’s caused trauma within our family.”
Lastly, Cobb again thanked the community for their support during this difficult time.