CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Police are sharing what they say is behind an increase in shootings in Champaign and Urbana.
At a public meeting Wednesday night, the Champaign County sheriff and Champaign police chief said most of this year’s shootings are not random and are a result of targeted gang retaliation.
Dozens showed up to hear what they had to say and talk about what can be done to stop the gun violence from getting worse. The Champaign police chief said several shootings this year have been between a couple rival gangs going back and forth at each other.
So far this year there have been 89 shootings in and near Champaign and Urbana. The most recent deadly shooting killed a 16-year-old outside his home.
Sheriff Dan Walsh said, “Gradually the violence has spun up and it continually gets worse and worse.”
In the last three weeks, Champaign and Urbana Police have responded to 11 shots fired calls. Bullets have hit homes that had children and seniors inside.
Walsh said, “If you fire 20 or more shots at a house, it penetrates the walls and sooner or later some innocent party is going to get hit and maybe killed.”
Champaign Police Chief Cobb said, “We have always had problems around here with gangs that are cliques.”
The problem has become worse and they say recent retaliation has become ruthless and brutal.
Walsh said, “We now have some individuals who don’t care. If they see me and i’m in a rival, they don’t care if ten innocent people standing around me.”
After pinpointing the problem, they asked people to share their thoughts. One man said he’s been to prison, came out a better man, and could help by talking to kids in schools about his life and warning people about the consequences of violence.
Chief Cobb said, “We want our community to know there is a problem, there is a concern, it’s something we want to deal with and we need your assistance in dealing with it.”
He says they have increased patrol in the streets. But the question remains, what can be done to stop this?
Walsh said, “If people see something suspicious call the police. If you see license numbers try to get those. But there’s got to be family members that have some suspicion and these family members need to be interviewed.”
Police will be holding a press conference Thursday to release more details about the recent shootings.
They will meet at 9:00 a.m. to set a time for media to come and ask questions. WCIA will be there and keep you informed on what comes out of it.