CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – It was a phone call Terry Von Thaden never expected to get.
“You know how your phone is always going off these days, and it’s someone checking on your extended warranty. The phone rang a few times, and I didn’t pick it up. With the third ring, I thought well, this is probably a call I need to pick up, and it was the chaplain of the emergency room,” she said.
On the other end, the chaplain asked Von Thaden if Liam Gasser was her son. Telling her there was an accident and to get to the hospital.
“I dropped everything and met her at the emergency room. She took me into the consultation room, and I said “Is there a crisis? What has happened?” and she said “Your son has been shot,” Von Thaden said.
It happened at the busy intersection of Prospect Avenue and Town Center Boulevard. In the middle of the afternoon.
Even though there are cameras on each stoplight, they won’t help in this case. That’s why they need you.
“If anyone saw anything, even a car speeding away from the scene going down another road. If anyone in the community hears anyone talking about, perhaps bragging about, who did this. If they could please come forward,” she said.
She said at the time, her son was on his way to get supplies for his Halloween costume. Something he was excited about.
That’s when, she says police tell her, a car cut him off at the intersection, he honked his horn, the car got next to him, and a gun was fired. The bullet hit just behind his left hear, ricocheted off his cervical vertebrae, and exited right below his right ear.
Von Thaden said he’s no stranger to hospitals. He was born with a congenital condition and had 9 surgeries before he was 12. At 14, he had a major leg surgery and was in a fixator for months. This resulted in severe Lymphedema, or extreme swelling, in his left leg, and he has to wear a support for. At 16, he had a tumor on his thoracic spine and needed emergency surgery, and then he had to re-learn how to walk.
Despite all of that, she said he was on several teams. Including lacrosse, and swim. She said he was studying to be an EMT. Von Thaden said her son is strong.
“Liam is a resilient individual. If you could put a picture next to the definition in the dictionary, it would be his picture,” she said.
Since the shooting, Gasser has been in the hospital. She said he has a traumatic brain and spinal injury. He can’t move his arms and legs and can’t breathe without a ventilator.
Von Thaden said they’re taking it day by day, and they’re waiting for the swelling in his brain to go down.
No arrests have been made and the incident remains under investigation.
Anyone who has additional information is asked to contact the CPD at 217-351-4545. Residents and businesses in the area with outside security cameras are also asked to contact the CPD, which believes video footage may help solve the case.
Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous can submit tips to Crime Stoppers at 217-373-8477, online or on the P3 Tips app. Crime Stoppers will pay a reward of $1000 for information that leads to the arrest of the person or people responsible for this shooting.