People have mixed emotions about going downtown after shots were fired


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — After shots were fired last night in Champaign, people have different opinions with going downtown. People are not allowed to park in lots at Neil and Washington and Walnut and Washington past 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The sign in the parking lot also says the lot closes at 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. The city says they implemented this as a safety precaution to limit gatherings in the parking lots.

“Do I feel safe? I don’t feel threatened at all by anything,” Mike Woodall, who was eating downtown, said.

That may be the case for some, but after shots were fired downtown some people in Champaign are on edge.

“I mean especially with a five month old daughter its pretty terrifying honestly. Obviously I’m just trying to make a living and do my job,” Jake Wallace, manager of Collective Pour, said.

This comes after a rise in gun violence throughout the city, and it has businesses concerned.

“Most of it in this general area and obviously working downtown every night it gets rough for sure,” Wallace said.

Wallace says he left ten minutes before the gunfire last night and is grateful the city is closing the parking lot at 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

“It helps us a ton. That’s the best thing we could ask for honestly because it kind of keeps everything away from here so we just get the walking traffic, which is great,” Wallace said.

Some people still feel safe being downtown, like Peter Goldsmith, who lives in the area and was out with his wife and toddler.

“Very safe, very safe. We know stuff’s going on here and there, but stuff’s going on all over the place,” Goldsmith said.

He says closing the parking lot is bittersweet and just hopes people use it for the right reasons.

“Before when people would gather and have big parties and I know they chased those guys out and so forth, but it hasn’t impacted us at all. I mean hopefully people can park and enjoy all that’s downtown,” Goldsmith said.

While people are having different opinions on downtown safety, the University of Illinois Police released a statement about the rise in gun violence on social media. They encourage people to be vigilant on and off campus.

“Use well lit, high traffic areas at all times. That helps keep you safer. Be aware of your surroundings when you’re out and about. Not only on campus, but wherever you go,” Pat Wade, U of I Police, said.

Even those who feel safe are staying alert.

“Keep your eyes open. A lot of good people down here, a lot of good businesses and so its good vibes so we love it,” Goldsmith said.

WCIA reached out to the city about if this worked last weekend and how long it will continue, and did not hear back. Champaign police said they are aware of the safety concerns and will be monitoring the area and have a presence downtown.

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