Gun violence surges in Champaign

By Bénédicte Yenyi Mulumba

Champaign – The city of Champaign is now accepting applications for entry-level police officer testing. All applications are due by 4 p.m. on June 17.

This announcement precedes the update on gun violence the Champaign Police Department provided to the community. As of April 8, Champaign Police have confirmed 52 incidents where a firearm was used. Since the start of this year, gun violence in the community has increased.

The incidents are broken down as follow:

YTD (Jan. 1-April 8) Shooting Data – Citywide    
 201920202021
Total # of Shots Fired Incidents  22  28  52
Individuals Struck  8  4  6
Property Damage  12  16  25
Homicides  1  1  0

 When compared to the past two years, incidents have doubled since 2019.

CPD defines shots fired incident as any time police find evidence a firearm was discharged, whether it be the discovery of spent shell casings, damage to property, or personal injury.

CPD reports that the shootings are not random and that the people involved usually know each other. ” Many of these violent acts are referred to as ‘crimes of opportunity,” a crime committed when the offender acknowledges the chance to act in that specific moment and seizes it. This has led to gunfire exchanged between passing vehicles.” states the CPD press release.

Here are a few notes provided by CPD on the characteristics of recent gun violence:

  • They are largely unpredictable and spurred by an isolated disagreement, often beginning on social media.
  • Shooting scenes now commonly involve a high number of rounds of ammunition, with more than 20, 30 or even 50 spent shell casings collected at some incidents.
  • An increase in incidents that involve multiple shooters, multiple weapons, and on occasion high-powered rifle rounds capable of piercing housing structures and vehicles.
  • Drug and alcohol consumption, along with large, late-night group gatherings have led to violence.
  • A lack of cooperation from victims and potential witnesses at shooting scenes.

“Unfortunately, gun violence remains an urgent, complex and multifaceted problem, for our community and most others,” said Lieutenant of Investigations Geoff Coon. “A small percentage of individuals are choosing to settle disputes with bullets instead of words, and it’s important we continue to build upon community partnerships to proactively find new ways to intervene, disrupt the violence, and help those involved find a new path forward. One shooting is one too many.”

CPD is linking the findings with the surge of armed crimes nationwide and they are reminding the community of important violence prevention measures and programs that are available for assistance. The public is encouraged to use all the community resources, support networks, and opportunities around the issue of gun violence.

 “All too often, our neighborhoods and families are becoming heartbroken by the tragic news of a shooting, and the impact of gun violence can create a significant trauma for bystanders, friends and loved ones who must try and live with an experience they wish never happened,” said Community Coalition Facilitator Tracy Parsons. “The senseless shootings must stop – our neighborhoods are not asking for the problem but are sadly and unjustly facing the brunt of it. The Coalition and its partners are committed as ever to addressing violent crime and supporting those affected.”

CPD says that public safety remains their top priority, and anyone with information related to a crime or future act of violence is encouraged to contact police at 217-351-4545.  Those who wish to provide information to solve these crimes but want to remain anonymous, can submit tips to Champaign County Crime Stoppers by phone at: 217-373-TIPS (8477); online at 373tips.com; or through the “P3 Tips” mobile app.

Bénie Yenyi

Bénédicte “Bénie” Yenyi Mulumba is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. She's currently a member of UI7 Live and a researcher in political science department. She was an intern at the China Post when studying abroad in Taiwan. She worked as a news reporter for the Daily Illini, as a writer for Her Campus student-magazine and as an editor for The Spectator - which is Heartland Community College’s magazine. She’s a member of the Black journalists of Illinois chapter and a member of UNICEF. Bénie is fluent in French, English, and Lingala. She’s aspiring to be an international reporter and work with international organizations.