Community members, city leaders call for an end to gun violence

Local News

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — With shootings on the rise in the area, people are scared more innocent victims could become hurt.

Champaign and Urbana saw four shootings in less than two days. Two men were killed, one on Friday night in Urbana, and another late Saturday night in Champaign. A 16-year-old was taken to the hospital after being shot in the leg Saturday morning. A man who went to his friend’s home in Urbana to let out the dog is now fighting for his life after he was shot in the front yard. No arrests have been made in any of these cases.

“It just seems we are in this cycle,” Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said on Monday.

It’s a cycle city and community leaders are desperate to break.

“We need to make gun violence, access to guns, everything related to this type of violence a top priority,” Marlin said.

She also called for treating the gun violence as a public health crisis.

Marlin said it was horrifying to learn last week that a toddler was hit by gunfire in a shooting Tuesday night in Urbana. She’s terrified situations like that could happen more often if the violence doesn’t stop.

“It’s just remarkable that there haven’t been more people hurt,” Marlin said. “But even one, no matter what age, innocent victim is one too many.”

Urbana police believe the two shootings over the weekend were not random.

“Even if these events aren’t random, the results are completely unpredictable,” Marlin said.

Tracy Parsons, who leads the Champaign County Community Coalition, said in an email to WCIA the weekend events were troubling and alarming, and that he’s received a significant number of calls from concerned community members. He’s anticipating more discussion of the gun violence at Wednesday’s Community Coalition meeting.

Last week, in response to the recent rise in gun violence, the Champaign Police Department also released the following list of resources and support networks:

  • Champaign County Community CoalitionMeeting on the second Wednesday of each month and open to the public, the Coalition is a collaborative initiative involving governmental partners, community organizations and members working together to address and solve the community’s most challenging social and economic issues – including gun violence. Each meeting includes a crime update from local law enforcement, and all residents are encouraged to join the discussion to learn more about community advancements, resources and the issues impacting our neighborhoods. 
    • Contact: Tracy Parsons, City of Champaign Community Relations Manager & Compliance Officer and Champaign County Community Coalition Facilitator.
  • CU Trauma & Resilience Initiative (CU TRI): A product of the Community Coalition, CU TRI is a collaborative initiative to improve the community’s ability to respond to families who have been affected by trauma, and to educate the community about trauma-informed care and resiliency. Individuals experiencing a trauma and in need of immediate support can call the CU TRI emergency number at 217-673-7122.
    • Contact: Karen Simms, CU TRI
    • 217-403-8876 
  • CU Fresh Start: CU Fresh Start is a community-led focused approach to deter gun violence. Focused deterrence gives individuals with a history of involvement with gun-related activity a chance to put down the gun and move in a different direction. Referrals can be made to CU Fresh Start to help individuals find a new path forward. 
    • Contact: Hattie LeNoir-Price, Community Outreach Liaison
    • 217-402-2949
  • The Illegal Gun Bounty Reward Program: Offered through Champaign County Crime Stoppers, anyone who contacts Crime Stoppers with a tip that leads to the arrest of a person who used a gun during the commission of a felony crime in Champaign County will receive the maximum $1,000 cash reward. Tipsters remain completely anonymous when providing information to Crime Stoppers.
  • Register your Neighborhood: Organized neighborhood groups are essential to fostering community well-being throughout the City. Register your neighborhood or group with the City of Champaign’s Neighborhood Services Department to help get to know those around you and to take an active role in organizing and leading your neighborhood. Neighborhood groups are also encouraged to reach out and share with law enforcement the problems most directly affecting their neighborhood. 
  • Neighborhood Watch: Register through the City’s Neighborhood Watch Program. Neighborhood Watch is a great opportunity for communities to help in the fight against crime, as well as to bond through acts of service. Our neighborhoods are built on the strength of our citizens; and every day, situations arise that call upon residents to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement.
  • See Something, Say Something: The community is reminded to report all suspicious activity to the authorities. Crime prevention and arrests are often the result of alert citizens. By being alert and reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement, you can help protect your family, neighbors, and community.

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