CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A news conference was held inside Champaign City Building Friday afternoon to address the death of 17-year-old Jonathan McPhearson Thursday night.
Champaign Deputy Police Chief Nathan Rath said McPhearson was targeted, this was not a random act of violence. It was reported that the victim and another person were sitting alongside Kirby Avenue near International Prep Academy when multiple masked suspects walked up to them and began shooting. That person was not hurt, according to Deputy Chief Rath.
He and other city leaders sent their condolences to McPhearson’s mother and family, and they’re asking for the public’s help.
“Police alone cannot be the answer to this very complex societal issue,” he added. “We need the public’s eyes and ears. Often the last piece of the puzzle to solving and addressing gun violence is for individuals to call in and report information that they have. We know there are people in this community that are intentionally withholding information.”
Rath wouldn’t comment on whether the person sitting with McPhearson is working with police, or if McPhearson’s death was related to any other violence we’ve seen recently. There was no comment about possible suspects either.
Rath said 16 guns were seized by the multi-jurisdictional Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force in the last week alone. He said that’s a lot for one week.
Speakers at the event were Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen, Deputy Mayor Will Kyles, Deputy Chief of Police Nate Rath, Community Relations Specialist Mary Catherine Roberson, Superintendent Shelia Boozer and Jamar Brown.
Watch the press conference here: