“Stop the violence and come together…” A plea many neighbors are calling for

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RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) – The holiday weekend brought with it violence throughout Central Illinois.

In just 72 hours 18 people were victims of gun violence leaving one person dead. One of those shootings was in Rantoul.

Police said 5 people were shot outside of a house on Maplewood Dr. by a drive-by shooter.

People in Rantoul are shocked about what happened this weekend. They said the only way to try and stop it is to come together as a community.

“Stop the ignorance,” Latoya Stewart, a Rantoul resident said.

“Stop the violence and come together,” Akeia Stewart said.

Akeia has lived in Rantoul for 12 years. His wife, Latoya has lived there for 2 years. They both said it’s a great place to raise their family.

“Rantoul is so quiet. I’m from California and I’ve been here 2 years and all I hear is ‘oh, it’s so country out there. What made you want to move to Rantoul’ and I like it because it’s quiet and it’s out the way,” Latoya said.

But over the past several years Akeia said gun violence has grown worse and Latoya said it’s not so quiet anymore.

“Now you’re bringing all of this violence in and there’s something to talk about it and that’s not good,” she said.

They both said Rantoul is a great place for people to come and get their life back on track and they said that’s what many people do. But on holiday weekends in particular, when friends and family come in from out of town, that’s when Akeia said Rantoul runs into issues.

“They’re not from here. So, they come here and they do what they do and then they hit Interstate 57 and go right back to where they is, laughing. People need to be accountable for their actions and a lot of the actions is bringing the people here,” he said.

The Stewarts said it’s hard to bring an end to all of the gun violence because they said you can’t control other people’s actions, but they think a good first step would be to come together as a community.

“The name of it is Rantoul Village. You need to start being a village and if the village stays together and sticks together then the outsiders can’t come and do what they want to do,” Akeia said.

The Stewarts said they think Neighborhood watch groups need to be brought back to the area.

They said right now, a lot of people are afraid of retaliation and putting their own families at risk. Police across Central Illinois tell us that is a major issue they have run into.

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