Students respond to recent campus shootings
June 23, 2020
On Sunday, June 14, students received an Illini-Alert at 12:51 a.m. stating there had been a shooting at Third and John Street, warning to avoid the area. At 1:23 a.m., a second Illini-Alert informed that the police have one suspect in custody. Finally, the all-clear for the area came at 3:18 a.m. and stated that police had completed their investigation of the scene, and it was safe to resume regular activities.
The Champaign Police Department responded to the situation and sent out a press release the same day regarding the night’s events. At 12:29 a.m. the night prior, the CPD “responded to an apartment building in the 300 block of East Daniel Street for a reported shooting” according to the release.
The police provided medical attention to a 24-year-old male while on the scene. He had suffered a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the lower body and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for further treatment. Later, the police were informed that a 21-year-old male who had also suffered a lower-body gunshot wound arrived at the hospital via a private vehicle.
The release also stated that a preliminary investigation found that the two victims were shot at an East Daniel Street apartment building and suggested that multiple shots were fired toward the fourth floor balcony where a party was happening.
Elyjah Brown, 19-year-old suspect, was caught after a brief chase and found with a bag containing “suspected cannabis and a large amount of U.S. currency,” according to the press release. Police also recovered a stolen handgun along the chase path. Brown is awaiting court proceedings in Champaign County jail.
At 3:46 a.m., police were notified of a second shooting after a 26-year-old male victim arrived at a local hospital with two non-life threatening gunshot wounds. He notified the police that he was struck by gunfire while sitting in a vehicle in the 1200 block of North Willis Avenue.
According to Thomas Yelich, Assistant to the Police Chief for Community Services at CPD, both shootings and the possible relation between them, remain under investigation. Though there were injuries in both instances, Yelich reiterated that “the injuries were not life threatening.” To his knowledge, no University students or staff were involved in either incident.
Karan Sil, junior in LAS and Media, said that around 11:50 p.m. or midnight that night, he was at 307 E. John St. with a couple people on the porch, about a block away from E. Daniel Street, where the shooting occurred.
“We didn’t really see anything, but we heard a couple gunshots, which at the time we were unsure exactly what they were,” Sil said. “Someone said fireworks, someone said gunshots, but at that point it was very unclear.”
The group was at the house of Angel Arreguin, recent graduate from LAS.
“We were out before, but we came back to my house,” Arreguin said. “We’re just sitting on the porch and we hear ‘pop-pop-pop!’, like 10 pops. And we weren’t sure if they were fireworks or what, but we assumed they were.”
Arreguin said that a girl came up to them minutes later in a panic.
“She’s like, ‘I don’t feel safe.’ She’s hyperventilating, and she tells us that there was just a shooting,” Arreguin stated.
Arreguin said that the girl informed the group that she had been at the party where the shooting occurred, and minutes later, they could hear sirens everywhere.
“At first I was just in disbelief because when she first came up to us, I didn’t know if she was being serious, but you could tell pretty quickly that she was,” Arreguin said.
Sil added that after a few minutes, several squad cars came by right outside 307 E. John St., where he and his friends were on the porch. Two men ran through an alleyway from the back to the front of the house, about 10 feet away from the group, Sil recalled.
“One of them proceeded to dump a really large duffel bag that looked pretty full in the alleyway,” Sil said.
Sil stated that two officers were trailing about 5-6 seconds behind the men, eventually catching up to them.
“The guy they arrested actually ran right by us, threw a bag down and ended up getting arrested, catty corner to where we were,” Arreguin said. “I had no clue who he was… All I know is he got arrested and they found evidence around our house.”
Sil said that his group went inside as several more squad cars arrived and began searching the area.
“There were a couple dogs with the cops,” shared Sil. “The searching occurred for some time, but that was it.”
Sil said that one person who lived at the house went back outside to ask the officers what was happening, though the police answered ambiguously, saying they had to perform a complete search of the area because the shooting and chase had happened so close by.
“It was just really overwhelming with everything, all the cops came, just seeing everything,” Arreguin shared.
Apart from the duffel bag, Sil said that the officers did not find much else in the area around the house and alley.
Even after the shooting, Sil shared that experiencing it all was perhaps “minimally unsettling” since it happened close by. However, he said, “In a way it was good to know the response time was so fast and there were multiple squad cars in the area in a matter of a couple minutes.”
Arreguin agreed that the response was very quick.
“I think they did a solid job, and I think campus will be fine. I think this was an outside of campus kind of thing since no students were part of the shooting,” Arreguin shared. “I think it was kind of a freak accident, cause there really aren’t many shootings during the school year.”
He said the CPD responded swiftly and completed a very comprehensive search, saying those facts “perhaps give us more peace of mind.”
Arreguin shared that right now he has been more up on his toes and little more alert but thinks everything will be fine.
Though Arreguin said he has heard rumors that the shooting was due to a drug deal gone wrong and one shooter has yet to be arrested, police have not yet confirmed this information and the situation remains under investigation by the CPD.