CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — 2020 was the worst year in terms of gun violence for one central Illinois city. Shootings alone nearly doubled compared to 2019 in Champaign. The same goes for Decatur. On top of that, homicides were up in both cities.
Police say it’s hard to pinpoint one reason why this is happening. They suggested that the pandemic probably didn’t help, but we’re seeing this increase in violence as a national trend. That has a profound impact on far too many lives.
“Every bullet’s going somewhere. Be it towards a person, somebody’s property. Their house,” said Champaign Police Detective Sergeant David Griffet. “The innocent people get brought into this, and people in the community get traumatized by the fact that they have to hear this gunfire. Very disheartening and very disappointing.”
Shootings nearly doubled in 2020 for Champaign with 189 compared to just 100 in 2019. Homicides were also up to 10 versus 2019’s two. Decatur had 169 shootings in 2020. That’s way up from 2019 when there were 83. They also had two more homicides in 2020, with 13 versus 11.
Griffet says a lot of young people are wrapped up in these situations. “There are more younger people possessing firearms, implicated in shooting incidents,” he explained. The number of shootings isn’t the only thing that’s increased. Officers are also finding more shell casings at crime scenes.
“A lot of offenders are obtaining these extended magazines, some of them that can hold up to 30 bullets, and they’re putting them in these handguns, and they can easily fire 33 rounds,” he said.
So, where do we go from here? Herbert Burnett works with a group that strengthens communities called Not On My Watch. He feels ending violence will require a shift in focus.
“I think, as a community, we have to inject hope back in the community. I think from 12 years old to 80, people are losing hope,” said Burnett.
Griffet says a lot of shootings are in retaliation for something else. Most of them aren’t random and are part of groups fighting against each other.
Danville saw fewer shootings and homicides in 2020. There were 48 shootings in 2020, down from 55 in 2019. There were eight homicides in 2020 compared to 10 the year before.