Vigil strives to honor George Korchev, unify community after gun violence


Yangwentao (Ryan) Fang

Students light their candles to show their support for the victims of the tragic Sunday shooting during the vigil on Tuesday.

By Madeleine Hubbard, Contributing Writer

A crowd of over 250 students lit candles and observed a moment of silence for George Korchev and the other victims of the Sunday shooting on Green Street. Some students bowed their heads; others tearfully looked to the sky.

Erik Lasaine spoke in memory of his longtime friend. Korchev, who was friends with Lasaine since middle school, was in town visiting Lasaine last weekend. Lasaine was also shot Sunday morning as he was walking back to his apartment with Korchev.

“His high-pitched laugh, his comical demeanor and his overall positive vibe were only some of his best qualities,” Lasaine said of Korchev.

The candlelight vigil held on the Main Quad Tuesday night was organized by the Illinois Student Senate as an act of solidarity. Student Trustee Collin Schumock gave a eulogy for George Korchev, who was an innocent bystander caught in the cross-fire.

“George was described as skilled, empathetic and selfless,” Schumock said. “George is a man that we should all admire and strive to be more like.”

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Korchev was planning on starting his career as a registered nurse on Sept. 27. Ultimately, Korchev was working to become a hospice nurse; he wanted to help people near the end of their lives.

“The best we can do in these incidents is share anything we know with the police, support one another and seek out University resources if we need them,” Vice Chancellor Renee Romano said.

After Romano addressed the students, Rabbi Shlomo Schachter and Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel spoke. Korchev and several of those who were shot belong to the Jewish community. Schachter encouraged students in the midst of the dark time. Rabbi Tiechtel, focusing on hope, led the students in humming the tune of  “Amazing Grace.”

“One of the ways that we can hold all of our feelings of pain, of sadness, of fear and grief and of hope and of love is to join together and open the doors of our hearts,” Tiechtel said. “And one of the great ways we can do that is by singing together.”

Ron Lewis, student body president, concluded the evening.

“The moments, the times, the scenes, the victims — they will now always forever be etched in our heads,” Lewis said.

He said the vigil was just the beginning of unity for the University.

“It could have been you. It could have been me,” he said. “It could have been anyone on this campus that was affected or was injured.”

“It’s pretty impressive how the Illinois community, being such a tight knit community, comes together when something like this happens … I was literally quite moved,” University Police Department Chief Jeff Christensen said.

The shooting was caused by a fight that broke out in an apartment on Green Street.

“If you see a fight going on, just try and calm it down. Just try and be there for people,” Lasaine said, reflecting on the night of the shooting.

“My general outlook is positive. Because I’m optimistic, I can get through this and continue on with my life and always keep George in my memories,”  Lasaine said.

Romano and others encouraged students to seek help if they need it. The University Counseling Center can be reached at 217-333-3704. Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to call Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 217-373-TIPS where they will remain anonymous.

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