CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – A terrifying start to the new year – all caught on camera. While many were celebrating with fireworks, dozens of gunshots rang through the air. Champaign police confirmed shots were fired early Sunday morning on Holly Hill Drive.
“My camera in the backyard – you can hear the screaming and the shooting,” David LeRoy said. “And it just kept going and going and going, and people were running this way, running that way, through my backyard.”
Not long after we all counted down to the start of 2023, David LeRoy was counting the gunshots he heard coming from a New Year’s party right outside his house.
“Quite a few people there. I knew this ain’t going to be good because that’s usually how it starts,” he said.
It ended with what LeRoy said sounded like more than 30 rounds captured on his security cameras, and a frightening wake-up call for one woman celebrating her first New Year’s in the United States, just a few blocks away.
“In Canada, going out… this isn’t the kind of thing you run into on New Year’s Eve,” Tiffany Taylor said.
Tiffany Taylor moved to Champaign in June. She said she never expected this kind of brush with danger.
“Despite the fact that I’m in a gated community, I was afraid to look out the front window just for fear of catching a stray bullet,” Taylor said.
Now, Taylor said she’s learned to distinguish the sounds of fireworks from gunfire.
“There’s been a few other times where I’ve just naively assumed it was fireworks. Fireworks on random days – fireworks,” Taylor said. “What would I say to the Americans? It doesn’t have to be like this.”
Meanwhile, for LeRoy, the dark novelty wore off years ago. He recalls another nearby shooting from about six months prior.
“They counted 32 rounds in this end of the street, another hundred something rounds at the end of the street,” LeRoy said.
And a tragic Halloween night in 2021.
“A young man that I watched walk to school for two years, cutting through my yard, 19 years old – he was shot and killed three feet from my bedroom window,” LeRoy said.
Champaign police said no one was hurt on Holly Hill Drive this New Year’s. But LeRoy is still counting down the days until he can leave.
“You hear it and see it so much,” LeRoy said. “I don’t know what else to say about it except we’re moving.”