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Campus still shaken after September shooting

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Police cars are parked at the intersection of Green and Fourth Street after a shooting that took place early Sunday morning.

Police cars are parked at the intersection of Green and Fourth Street after a shooting that took place early Sunday morning.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Police cars are parked at the intersection of Green and Fourth Street after a shooting that took place early Sunday morning.

When shots rang out on Green St. on the night of Sept. 25, the campus reacted quickly and the effects were long-lasting.

One student walking home, Camille Baer, an Illini Media Company employee, turned around to see what looked like 70 people running and screaming. Then, the sound of six or seven gunshots filled the early Sunday morning air.

“I just ducked, I just crouched into a ball,” Baer said. “Then I saw people running and I was like, ‘What am I doing? I should be running.’”

Around the same time, Bianca Sage, a Parkland College student, was standing in the beer garden at The Red Lion. She and some friends had come outside because it wasn’t fun inside. There was no music playing, and it was quiet.

Without warning, she and the other people were pushed inside the bar and were not allowed to leave. After a few minutes, they were ushered into a back alley.

“They were putting us out there not knowing where the shooter (was),” she said. “It was definitely scary not knowing if you were just passing the shooter on the street or not.”

The suspect in the shooting, 18-year-old Robbie Patton, turned himself in for the shooting after the police issued a warrant for his arrest. Patton’s pretrial is set for Dec. 13 at 9 a.m.

Champaign Police Department Detective David Allen was called to testify about the events of the shooting, and explained what happened outside of the apartment party.

He confirmed that the party took place at apartment 6 of 306 Green St.

“The fight started in the south side of the parking lot and ended before (reaching) the sidewalk,” he said. “There were five individuals present, attacking a separate victim, Edwin McCraney, who suffered a concussion and wounds to the face.”

Patton is being charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm.

If charged, Patton would serve a minimum sentence of 45 years and a maximum sentence of 85 years, Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said.

Before Patton turned himself in, police believed him to be armed and dangerous. He was the sole focus of the investigation, Champaign Police’s Lt. Dave Shaffer said.

In a related fight that took place before the shooting, someone was knocked unconscious. Shaffer said they cannot confirm if Patton fired in retaliation, though they believe the incidents are related.

“We do believe the fight has played a role in leading to the gunfire,” Shaffer said.

After serving eight and a half months of an eight-year sentence for his involvement in a shooting in December 2015, Patton was released on parole on Sept. 9.

He had pleaded guilty to a weapons charge for firing a firearm at the Steak and Shake in the 2100 block of North Prospect Avenue, but was recommended for bootcamp by Circuit Judge Tom Difanis.

After the shooting, the police said they hoped students would be more aware of the crime around them.

“Students, we always talk about (living in) that bubble,” said Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb. “But I wish I could pop some bubbles sometimes and say we’ve just got to be a little bit aware of what’s going on around us.”

Cobb’s statement proved to be even more important after the Green Street shooting when innocent bystanders were shot; five people were injured and one man was killed.

George Korchev of Mundelein received fatal wounds. He was on campus visiting friends and was going to start a new job as a nurse the following Monday.

“Once he got someone to laugh, he would burst out laughing and get a bunch of other people to laugh,” Jorgen Juul, his former high school classmate, said. “It was this chain reaction thing that pretty much happened every single day.”

Vigils were held to commemorate the life of Korchev and to stand in solidarity with the other shooting victims. The Illinois Student Senate held the vigil to promote a feeling of unity and safety on the campus, President Ronald Lewis said.

Like most University students, Juul never expected that a high school classmate would be a shooting victim. Especially at the University, which Juul considers a safe campus.

“It’s crazy to think that we went to school with this guy and now he’s dead; he got shot,” Juul said. “I don’t really know any other way to put it.”

The police say they simply want people to be aware.

“Our campus is a relatively safe campus, but we always say we’re not immune from crime,” Cobb said. “And it’s clear we’re not immune from these tragedies.”

news@dailyillini.com

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