Man fires gun at deputies, threatens woman during chase on I-74

Local News

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The Champaign County Sheriff says a Potomac man fired a gun at deputies Sunday night as they chased him onto I-74.

A press release from Sheriff Dustin Heuerman says around 10:50 p.m. police tried to stop a car near Cunningham Avenue and Kenyon Road, which is just south of I-74.

Officers say a K9 unit was alerted by the car and the driver then fled from the traffic stop.

The press release says shots were fired at deputies as they tried to follow the car east onto I-74.

Police say three groups of bullet rounds were fired at them from the car’s passenger side between 10:59-11:02 p.m., with the first fired on I-74 between Cunningham Avenue and University Avenue. Officers say the second and third groups occurred between University Avenue and St. Joseph.

Heuerman says he believes eight rounds were fired at the deputies.

He adds 911 dispatchers were called by a driver who says a man inside her car was threatening to shoot her if she stopped. That man, identified by police as 34-year-old John Bennett, of Potomac, also threatened to kill himself and others, police say.

The car continued east on I-74 at a speed of 60-70 mph until it pulled off the interstate at Illinois Route 49 in Vermilion County.

Heuerman says Illinois State Police and Vermilion County Deputies began assisting their response at that point.

Investigators say the car broke down around 11:30 p.m. and stopped about a mile east of Route 49 on East 2500 North Road.

Police say the driver got out of the car but the Potomac man refused to leave.

“Deputies on scene spoke with Bennett for approximately 3 hours attempting to get him to exit the
vehicle,” Heuerman says.

Just after 2:30 a.m., police say they saw Bennett unload a bullet from the chamber of a AR-15 rifle and then threw the weapon outside of the car. Deputies say the man obeyed their commands to leave the car and he was arrested without incident.

Police say they seized the weapon, the loose bullet round, and a rifle magazine with 21 rounds inside.

Heuerman says Bennett was taken to Carle Hospital for a mental evaluation before being taken to the Champaign County Jail.

He was charged with attempted murder, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, the release says.

Police say there is no reported property damage and police were not hurt by the gunfire.

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