Search ends in arrest of Champaign armed robbery suspect

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Champaign police have arrested a suspect in connection with an armed robbery Friday evening.

Witnesses said SWAT team members emerged from the apartment building’s parking garage chasing a black man wearing a white T-shirt.

The officers brought the man to the ground and handcuffed him.

Three groups of SWAT team members were sent into the building at 512 S. Third St. in Champaign during the search.

The building was quarantined off at approximately 4 p.m. Residents returning to their apartments or attempting to leave the building stood on street corners, calling roommates and friends as they waited for information.

Rene Dunn, spokeswoman for the Champaign Police Department, confirmed that there was an armed robbery in the area earlier Friday evening.

“They (the police) have the building secured and are systematically searching for the subject,” said Associate Chancellor of Public Affairs Robin Kaler.

Nishant Sarma, senior in LAS, lives on the first floor of the apartment. He said that the police knocked on his door and declared themselves before telling him to back up from the door and get down on his knees with his hands up.

The police then told him to stand up, took him across the hall and then let him go back and get his wallet to determine his identification.

After quickly checking him for weapons, they told him to grab his belongings and leave the apartment.

Sarma said that about five law enforcement agents entered his apartment and glanced around searching for other people. He said that’s what seemed to concern them most.

An employee at Campus Property Management said that the group knew very little earlier Friday afternoon, but was in the process of calling the residents to alert them of the situation.

Brad Johnson, senior in Business, is a resident who received one of those calls. He said that he was told there was a “severe situation” at the building, and that he should lock his door and stay away from his balcony and windows.

Dunn said that she was unsure when people could return to the apartment building.

Kaler said that the University’s emergency text system was not used in this scenario because the police knew who they were looking for and where.

When questioned about how the University was alerted to the situation, Kaler said that “the police are the University.”

Rayna Schaff, junior in LAS, said that there are two main entrances to the building, one on Third Street and one on Healey Street. Although you need a key to enter the Third Street entrance and to use the elevators, Schaff said that the entrance on Healey Street is usually open.

Schaff also said that the parking garage is also open. It is unclear how the potential robber gained access to the building.

Third and Healey streets surrounding the building were closed down during the search.

For updates on this story and other stories related to the robbery, check Tuesday’s edition of The Daily Illini and