Champaign Police Department Seeks the Public’s Help to Solve Weekend Shootings

Community partnerships are the foundation of effective crime prevention and community policing. Therefore, the Champaign Police Department is requesting assistance from the public in solving gun crimes committed over the past four days.

Since May 22, 2014, the Champaign Police Department has responded to approximately 15 gun-related incidents; five (5) shootings, seven (7) shots heard calls and three (3) armed subject calls. The shootings resulted in three males (including a 16 year-old) suffering non-life-threatening gun-shot wounds. Two of these males walked into area hospitals (Carle and Decatur Memorial) with gunshot wounds, and reported being shot while in the 1200 block of Carver Drive, Champaign, during a dice game. In addition to these calls, officers responded to one (1) stabbing, two (2) armed robberies, and one (1) residential burglary in which a firearm was stolen. At least two vehicles and two homes were also struck by gunfire. In response, the Department has put the following plan in place to address the gun violence:

Directed Patrols. Patrol officers have been conducting directed patrols and intelligence-led policing activities, specifically in the areas where shootings or shot-fired calls were reported. On May 27, 2014, at 12:00 a.m., officers responded to a shots fired call in the 2500 block of W. Springfield. One male, Chernenko C. Smith, 28, of Urbana, was arrested for his involvement in this incident. Officers recovered a firearm at the scene. On May 26, officers arrested two suspects in connection with an Armed Robbery, that had just occurred in the 300 block of W. Church Street at 1:43 a.m. Joshua Mason, 22, of Champaign and April Tharpe, 30, Rantoul, were arrested. Patrol officers have continued to respond to calls for service throughout the city and have worked additional hours to conduct proactive details and increase visibility in targeted areas.

Follow-Up Investigations. Investigators have continuously worked long hours to respond to crime scenes, gather information, and follow-up on leads provided to police locate the persons responsible for these crimes. While investigating these cases, detectives have faced challenges, as some witnesses and victims have provided limited information.

Law Enforcement Collaboration. The Department has reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Safe Streets Taskforce to provide technical and enforcement assistance. The Department is also partnering with local law enforcement agencies, including the University of Illinois Department of Public Safety, Urbana Police Department, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and other judicial agencies, during the investigation. Investigators have learned that several subjects involved in these crimes reside in other jurisdictions.

Public Education and Communication. Command staff will be sharing information to internal and external stakeholders about policing efforts to address crime and provide updates on arrests. The Department is reaching out to community organizations and grass-roots organizations for assistance with creating and promoting anti-violence and gun-safety messages. Messages will be distributed on social media and in the neighborhoods that have been affected by gun violence.

Gun owners are encouraged to disassemble, lock and store guns so that they are inaccessible to children and other unauthorized users. Business owners or other authorized gun dealers are encouraged to do the same, particularly during non-business hours, in order to deter burglaries from occurring.

As we approach the July 4th holiday, the Department expects to see an increase in shots fired calls due to the fireworks that will be discharged in neighborhoods. Therefore, the Department is urging the community to avoid the use of illegal fireworks and any explosive devices which emulate the sound of gunfire.

If caught in the immediate vicinity of a shooting incident, bystanders are urged to take cover by hiding behind a large tree, or other solid structure, and to move to a safe area. When out of harm’s way, immediately call 911. If the situation allows for the incident to be safely audio or video recorded, please do so and contact the Champaign Police Department or Crime Stoppers. Photos can be uploaded to Crime Stoppers and will remain anonymous. This action will assist police with identifying the subjects involved in committing crimes. If anyone has information about any of these cases, please call the Champaign Police Department at (217) 351-4545. Callers can also submit anonymous tips online to Crime Stoppers at or by texting the following: CCtips plus the information to 274637 (CRIMES). Crime Stoppers will pay a reward up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for these crimes.

Law enforcement plays an important role in preventing gun violence and solving crimes. However, a collaborative effort, involving citizens and the entire judicial system is necessary to maintain a safe community. Please join the Champaign Police Department in putting an end to gun violence in the Champaign-Urbana area.