Police chief clarifies Halloween shooting incident


Photo Courtesy of /U/UIUC_slayer / Reddit

Multiple police cars respond to a shooting incident near the intersection of First and Green streets. No one was injured during the incident.

By Matt Troher, Assistant Longform Editor

As Halloween night turned into the early morning of Nov. 1, rumors of shots fired near First and Green streets circled around, creating a sense of unease. Although the incident was resolved quickly, the lack of Illini Alert sent out prompted the University of Illinois Police Department to post to their website in order to clarify the incident.

According to the Champaign Police Department, shots were fired near the 100 block of East Green Street at 12:08 a.m. University Police Chief Alice Cary was immediately briefed as officers patrolling Green Street responded to the scene after hearing the shots.

The two responding officers saw the suspects fleeing the scene, and immediately apprehended the suspects at 12:12 a.m. No one was injured during the incident, and officers recovered a firearm and cannabis from the scene of the crime. No one involved in the incident was affiliated with the University. The motivation as to why shots were fired is unclear.

Due to the timeliness with which the incident was resolved, the UIPD did not issue an Illini Alert. Illini Alerts are notifications sent through email, text message and social media, alerting campus community members about incidents that present an imminent threat to life, health or safety. 

Cary said that an Illini Alert was not issued regarding the incident due to how quickly it was resolved. 

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“When I was briefed by my command staff, they told me they were prepared to hit send, and within a minute of, the suspect was in custody,” Cary said. “It was ready to go, but the incident took place so quickly.”

Only four minutes elapsed between when shots were fired and when the suspects were apprehended. 

Due to the proximity of the shots to Green Street, where many gatherings large and small occurred celebrating Halloween, many students heard the shots without knowing when, or if, the situation was resolved. Cary emphasized that, while the scene that transpired on Nov. 1 had unfortunate timing, Illini Alerts are only sent when there’s an immediate danger.

“You can think of it like a tornado warning,” Cary said. “The Illini Alert is very similar. In definition, the Illini Alert is an emergency notification that includes a very short description of an immediate threat and instructions on how to protect yourself. We use them for all kinds of threats, not just crime. We use them for fire, severe weather, bomb threats and active shooters. In each case, we have a system that gets reviewed on a case by case basis. Once we get the pertinent information, we send out an Illini Alert. If we ever think there may be an immediate threat to the community in progress, that’s when we send the alert out.”

At 1:15 p.m. on Nov. 1, the UIPD posted an update to their website providing details regarding the incident, including the nature of the crime as well as the timeliness with which the incident was resolved. The update was also sent out in a Massmail from UIPD. The update also reminded students that the Illini Alert system is only used when incidents “present an immediate risk to campus.”

“We don’t put the alerts out for informational purposes,” Cary said. “They’re not news releases, they’re short, readable emergency messages so we can get the information out to keep everyone safe. You’ll see more of these follow-up emails from me so people are aware of the situation and they’re not left hanging, because crime affects everyone. I think getting the basic follow-up information out will ease a lot of minds.”

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