News Local/State

U Of I Students, Community, Honor Shooting Victim

UI Counseling Center DIrector Carla McCowan addresses a crowd at the Urbana campus Quad Tuesday,

UI Counseling Center DIrector Carla McCowan addresses a crowd at the Urbana campus Quad Tuesday, Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

University of Illinois student leaders have honored the memory of a suburban Chicago man, George Korchev, who died in a weekend shooting near campus. The Illinois Student Senate says the Tuesday evening vigil was put together to show solidarity, and support for those who lost their friend. Tuesday night’s vigil on the Urbana campus quad brought out about 300 people.

Korchev had come to Champaign to visit U of I student Erik Lasaine, who was among the four people shot and wounded early Sunday. They were in a group of friends walking on East Green Street when a fight broke out during a party around 12:30 am, leading to gunfire.

Speaking before the crowd Tuesday night, Lasaine said they’ve been friends since attending 8th grade in Round Lake, Illinois, spending hours playing video games.

“George was very unique," he said. "From his beard, to his man bun, to his vape. But especially his personality. You never would have known anyone like him. His high-pitched laugh, his comical demeanor, and his overall positive vibe, were some of his best qualities.”

Lasaine says he was moved by the turnout to honor Korchev.

“It meant a lot," he said. "Honestly for someone who didn’t even attend school here, it’s really great to see lot of support from people.”

The 22-year old Korchev, from Mundelein, was to have started a job as a registered nurse this week at a hospital in Libertyville. He had a career goal of becoming a hospice nurse.

Lasaine was shot in the back, but says he was able to walk, and contacted authorities. There’s still a bullet lodged in his back, but says surgery would have been more dangerous at the time, and expects to heal in four to six weeks. Two others received non-life threatening injuries.

Rabbi Shlomo Schachter of the U of I's Chabad Center for Jewish Life led the crowd in humming "Amazing Grace" at the vigil.

Dozens of students and community members attend the vigil on the U of I Quad.

Photo Credit: Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

"One of the ways that we can hold all of our feelings of pain, and sadness, of fear, of grief, and of hope, and of love is to join together and open the doors of our hearts," he said. "And one of the great ways we can do that is by singing together."

U of I student Trustee Collin Schumock says he never met him, but quickly learned that Korchev lived a life worth emulating.

“If any good can come out of this tragedy, is that we have an example of a life we should all strive to life," he said. "A life of selfless giving, a life that recognizes the dignity of human life, and a life focused on making other people’s lives better.”

Meanwhile, Champaign police now say another shooting on South State Street about half an hour later, in which a woman received non-life threatening injuries, appears to be unrelated to what occurred on Green Street. No arrests have been made.

Other speakers at the campus vigil included U of I Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano and U of I Counseling Center Director Carle McCowan. The police chiefs of Champaign, Urbana, and the U of I were all at the vigil, as was Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh.