Police officer dead after shootout with suspect

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A Champaign Police officer was killed Wednesday morning and another was hurt after responding to a domestic disturbance call at Town Center apartments.

Chief Anthony Cobb confirmed the death and has issued the following press release:

“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart I announce Champaign Police Officer Chris Oberheim, 44, badge number 703, passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty. Officer Oberheim was struck by gunfire while responding to a domestic disturbance. His only intention was to serve, protect and help provide care before he was senselessly fired upon and killed.

Officer Oberheim joined the Champaign Police Department in September 2008 after beginning his career with the Decatur Police Department. A true professional and devoted public servant, Officer Oberheim is remembered for his heroism, bravery, and the oath of office he honorably upheld in his commitment to duty.

The Champaign Police Department, and the entire City of Champaign organization, expresses its deepest condolences to Officer Oberheim’s family, friends and loved ones. I also want to express my care and support for all members of the Champaign Police Department who are mourning the passing of their friend and colleague.

We ask that Officer Oberheim’s family, and other Champaign Police Officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this difficult time.”

Officers responded before 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to a domestic disturbance call at Town Center apartments on North Neil Street.

Investigators say two officers got out of their car and ran into an armed person. Gunfire followed, and the suspect and two officers were shot.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police. One officer was left in critical condition and another was stable, as of 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The two police officers were then taken to a hospital. Illinois State Police is heading the investigation into the incident.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup identified the suspect Wednesday afternoon. He says his name is Darion M. Lafayette. Northrup says he was 24-years-old and from Champaign.

The Monticello School District has issued a press release regarding the death of Officer Oberheim. You can read it below.

“It is with deep sadness that I share with you news of the passing of Chris Oberheim, father of Hannah (grad), Avery (12th), Addison (8th), and Aubree (8th), while working as a Champaign Police Officer early this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with this family during this difficult time and with all families of police officers near and far.

Vic Zimmerman, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools”

The National Fallen Officer Foundation has announced it will be providing financial assistance to Officer Oberheim’s family. See below for more information on how to give back.

“Under the “Direct Support Initiative,” supporters can donate directly to any specific officer-support initiative. Simply enter the specific initiative, officers’ name and / or the related crisis and we will make the connection with the officer or family to issue the support.”

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Oberheim’s passing is preceded by two other on-duty police deaths in Champaign history.

Patrolman Robert L. Tatman was shot and killed on Nov. 25, 1967 during a traffic stop at Church and Mattis streets. A passing driver told dispatchers after 1 a.m. that Tatman was unresponsive.

Robert Tatman

The policeman was found down near his squad car with a gunshot wound. He died at the scene. An investigation found he had been shot with his own duty revolver. His killer was never found.

Patrolman Thomas Dodsworth was shot and killed on July 6, 1913. He and the police chief were trying to arrest two bootlegging suspects.

Thomas Dodsworth

During the incident, Dodsworth stood outside the suspect’s residence as the chief went in to arrest him. The policeman heard two gunshots; he then went inside and found the chief fighting with the suspect.

One of the suspects was killed and the other was hurt.

Dodsworth pulled the suspect off the chief, as the alleged bootlegger shot him three times. The chief then recovered his gun and shot and killed the suspect. Dodsworth died at the scene, and the chief suffered two gunshot wounds.

Dodsworth was credited for saving his chief’s life.

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