Funeral homes may increase safety measures after shootings

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “I’ve always got in touch with law enforcement that we can at least let them know the timeline to let them know when we are doing service,” Seon Williams, Williams Memorial Service, said.

That’s what one funeral home does and others are considering after shootings across Central Illinois. There was a deadly shooting at a funeral luncheon in Champaign last week. It happened outside of an American Legion, but some funeral homes are taking that into consideration and working with police.

WCIA spoke with two funeral homes in Champaign. One place says they have not needed to have any extra security and one who says he’s feeling the impact of gun violence first hand.

“These guys don’t understand the process of grieving and so the way they grieve is retaliation,” Williams said.

After a shooting at a funeral luncheon in Champaign last week, funeral homes are on edge.

“My first duty is to protect our staff right. And then the second priority is to protect the families,” Williams said.

Seon Williams is a funeral home director. He says he works hand and hand with the police to provide safety for funeral services.

“We’ve needed a lot more law enforcement, unfortunately, we’re stressing about that a little bit, but the main thing is protecting citizens,” Williams said.

Meanwhile, other funeral homes in Champaign are feeling the impact from the shooting.

“I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t, like I said, done anything about it. Its always an underlying concern. Its becoming more and more prevalent,” Jay Yost, Owens Funeral Home Director, said.

For Williams, the violence hits home for him.

“A lot of the guys that’s being affected by gun violence and dying are some of the kids who grew up in my shop. Unfortunately now they’re at the funeral home,” Williams said.

Williams also used to own a barbershop in Champaign, where people went to as a safe haven.

“I mean I almost cried every funeral, because of just the relationships that I’ve had built up over the years with these families,” Williams said.

He hopes the community can come together to end the violence.

“I wish the blue side along with the African American side, along with the rest of the citizens of Champaign can come together and really do a walk as one. And walk and show that the rest of the world that this is how you combat gun violence is by coming together,” Williams said.

He hopes he can quit seeing kids he saw grow up in his shop in a casket.

“I’ve known these young kids since their puberty and now to see them on the cold embalming table its heart wrenching,” Williams said.

Williams also said that funerals can cost about $10,000 dollars. He told me he has to adjust prices to help some families out, especially when they don’t have money set aside for an unexpected death.

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