CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– A family in Champaign ended up at the hospital after getting caught in the middle of two cars exchanging bullets.
It happened yesterday on N Market St near E Marketview Dr on Monday.
The Champaign Police Department is still investigating who is behind the gunfire. Police say two cars were chasing each other and eventually, the people inside started shooting at one another.
However, it wasn’t until Tuesday that we learned a 9-year-old boy became an unintended target.
“We were just riding home from school. You know, just taking the long way home,” Victoria Valadez began.
She’s the mother of 9-year-old Damien Jones, the child caught in the crossfire.
Valadez said, seemingly out of nowhere on a pretty busy street, she started to hear the noise.
“I guess innately I registered that it was gunshots because I screamed, ‘Get down,’ to the kids, told them to get on the ground,”Victoria Valadez, mother of 9-year-old hurt during shootout
Valadez said a bullet came through her back window. It was stopped by the passenger seat headrest, but not before her son was hurt.
“Damien started saying, ‘I got shot’, and I said, ‘You didn’t get shot. You’re going to be okay. You’re going to be fine’,” she said. “And I looked back and my windshield was busted and my son was bleeding, and my daughter was just screaming.”
The gunshots continued so Valadez had to keep driving to a safe spot. When she pulled over she assessed the situation and headed straight for the hospital.
“I had him in my lap driving him to the hospital. My 8-year-old called 911,” Valadez added.
Police said they were unable to determine if the child was grazed by a stray bullet or by glass that shattered when the car was hit.
“He was definitely grazed by a bullet because he had fragments of the bullet still in his face,” Valadez said, adding he was cut by glass as well. “…My understanding is that a bullet went right over his head.”
Champaign police believe about 20 shots were fired during the shootout. We talked to several businesses in the area. They all heard the gunfire or at least a “popping” noise, but everyone wanted to be left out of the story. One worker in the area told me they fear if they went on camera, they could be the next victim.
“There’s no humanity left, people don’t care,” Valadez added.
Both Champaign police and the Champaign County State’s Attorney have told us that a lack of witnesses coming forward is hindering shooting investigations.
As for Damien, he is doing better, according to Valadez, but she said he is afraid to get back in the car.
“The gun violence has to stop. People have to go to therapy, learn how to articulate [their] feelings. You know, we’re all adults,” Valadez concluded. “It’s childish behavior, it’s immature and it’s wrong because you’re killing our kids, you know, you’re hitting babies.”
She is just thankful she has her two kids safe at home.
“He’s nine, he doesn’t have any enemies or anything like that. We were just stuck in the crossfire,” Valadez said.
Valadez’s mom was with her when we spoke tonight. She wanted to thank the police for helping them.
If you can help Champaign police in their investigation, give them a call at (217) 351-4545.