August 01, 2014

Third Suspect Arrested in Redding Murder

A third suspect in the Allen Redding murder was arrested Thursday in Arkansas.

Champaign Police report that Micah J. Hopkins, 30, of Champaign, was taken into custody Thursday afternoon in Blytheville, Arkansas. U.S Marshals were assisted by Blytheville Police in making the arrested. Blytheville Police also picked up two people for questioning.

Police have already arrested Devon Craig, who is charged with Redding's murder, and his brother Paul Craig, who faces charges including unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon and aggravated intimidation of a witness. Markeeta McFarland was arrested earlier this week on the intimidation charge. All three are from Champaign.

Champaign Police Lieutenant Robert Rea said in a new release that investigators are making progress in the case, with helps from other law enforcement agencies and tips from the public. "However, we still need the public's help", said Rea.

Anyone with information on the Redding murder is asked to contact Champaign Police at (217) 351-4545. Information can be sent anonymously to Champaign County Crime Stoppers at (217) 373-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.373tips.com, or by texting keyword "CCTIP" plus the information to 274637 (CRIMES).


July 09, 2014

Gov. Quinn Prepared To Send State Police To Address Chicago Violence

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is willing to provide back-up for the Chicago Police Department. More than 50 people were shot in Chicago over the long holiday weekend.  

Quinn said he is prepared to send the Illinois State Police to help address Chicago’s violence, but only if Mayor Rahm Emanuel asks for them.

“We are always ready to help in whatever district the city may request," Quinn said. "We’ve done that in many, many districts and I’m prepared to help the mayor and the police chief if they request it, wherever they need it.”

Quinn said the state police patrol the Metro East region on weekends, around East Saint Louis in Southern Illinois.


Police investigate the scene of a shooting at 75th Street and Stewart Avenue on Saturday in Chicago. At least 50 people were shot in the city, nine of them fatally, in a wave of violence over the Fourth of July weekend.
(E. Jason Wambsgans/MCT /Landov)
July 07, 2014

More Than 50 People Were Shot In Chicago Over The Holiday Weekend

At least 50 people were shot in Chicago, 12 of them fatally, in a wave of violence over the long Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The Chicago Tribune called it "the greatest burst of gun violence Chicago has seen this year."

The numbers came from The Associated Press. The Tribune had higher numbers and included shootings from late Thursday.

The newspaper said that from Thursday night into Friday, three people were killed and 10 wounded; from Friday afternoon into Saturday, 20 people were shot, one fatally; from Saturday night into Sunday morning, four people were killed and 10 wounded; and from 2:30 p.m. Sunday to 3:30 a.m. Monday, four people were killed and at least 26 more wounded.

Nearly all, the Chicago Sun-Times notes, were black or Hispanic men age 35 or younger.

Police shot five people, two of whom were killed. The two dead were teenagers, 14 and 16. Police said both teens, who were shot in separate incidents 24 hours apart, were armed.

NPR's Cheryl Corley, reporting on All Things Considered, quoted Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy as saying his department had a plan prior to the holiday weekend that included putting hundreds more officers on the city's streets.

"And what were the results? A lot of shootings and a lot of murders, unfortunately," McCarthy said at a news conference.

He blamed the proliferation of illegal guns in the city for the violence.

"There's too many guns coming in and too little punishment going out," he said.

The Sun-Times reports that while homicides are at their lowest levels since the 1960s, shootings have increased since last year.

Indeed, as our former blogger Mark Memmott noted in April, a weekend of violence in that month left 45 people shot. A month later, NPR's David Schaper witnessed a shooting on Chicago's South Side while he was interviewing a real estate professional for a story on her community's effort to mobilize for positive change.

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June 15, 2014

Police: 2 Dead, 1 Injured in Dwight Shooting

Police say that two people are dead and another is injured after a shooting in a home Saturday morning in Dwight, on the Livingston-Grundy County line.  

The Dwight Police Department in a news conference on Saturday said that a man who was shot called authorities who arrived at 4:30 a.m. Police arrived on the scene to find two women dead and the man lying on the floor.  

The Bloomington Pantagraph has reported that no arrests have been made. The man has undergone surgery.  

Police did not identify the three individuals and could not confirm whether all three lived at the house.  

Police Chief Tim Henson says authorities will not "let any stone go unturned'' as they investigate.  

Anyone with information has been asked to call the Dwight police department at 815-584-3132. 


President Obama listens to a question read by Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp during a Tumblr forum Tuesday.
(Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
June 11, 2014

Obama: Country Needs To Do Some 'Soul Searching' On Gun Control

Just hours after another school shooting left two dead and one injured, President Obama was asked what he's going to do about these kinds of incidents.

"The country has to do some soul searching about this," Obama said. "This is becoming the norm, and we take it for granted in ways that, as a parent, are terrifying to me."

Obama went on for about seven minutes. He was talking during an education-focused question-and-answer session with David Karp, the founder of the microblogging site Tumblr. He said the core of the issue is not mental health, but ready access to guns and large caches of ammunition. He said Washington should be "ashamed" of its inability to pass gun control legislation.

Here's full audio of his answer:

Update at 5:46 p.m. ET. Some Background:

President Obama tried to pass gun control legislation after the shootings at Newtown, which left 20 children and 6 adults dead.

He made it a central part of his 2013 State of the Union address. But, ultimately, even a watered-down version of the initial bill failed to become law.

As our friend at It's All Politics Frank James put it, the failure was a "stinging blow" to Obama's second-term agenda.


Parents and family in Troutdale, Oregon
(Amelia Templeton /Oregon Public Broadcasting)
June 10, 2014

Gunman Kills Student In Oregon School Shooting

A shooter entered an Oregon high school with a rifle today and killed one student and injured a teacher, authorities said.

Troutdale Police Chief Scott Anderson said the shooter was later found dead, but he provided no detail as to how the shooter died. Anderson said they've identified the shooter but were not ready to release a name or more information.

Police and a SWAT team descended on Reynolds High School in the mid-morning hours, after receiving reports of a shooting.

Images from local television showed students being evacuated from the Troutdale, Oregon, school with their hands above their heads. As parents heard the news, they streamed toward the school.

Live coverage from KOIN-TV showed parents gathering at a parking lot, some of them in tears. 

Oregon Public Broadcasting is live blogging. We will update this post once we have more information. The next scheduled press conference is at 3 p.m. ET.

Update at 3:21 p.m. ET. Teacher Hurt:

Troutdale Police Chief Scott Anderson said one teacher was hurt during the shootings, but his injuries were not life threatening.

He added that the shooter used a rifle and that police had identified the shooter, but were not prepared to release more information.

Anderson said that during the evacuation process another gun was found, but it was unrelated to the shooting.

NPR member station OPB who said students were searched and "another student nearby was discovered to be carrying a gun." Anderson said the person carrying the gun was taken into custody.

Anderson added the incident was brought to an end by tactical teams. It's unclear whether that means police killed the shooter.

Update at 1:03 p.m. ET. One Student Dead:

During a press conference, Sheriff's office spokesman Steve Alexander said a shooter entered the high school and shot and killed a student. The shooter is also dead, though there is no detail on how the shooter died.

Officials did not say if any others were injured.

"This is a very, very tragic day and one that I had hoped would never be part of my experience," Reynolds School Superintendent Linda Florence said at the press conference.

She said the school would release more details through a press release.

Update at 12:19 p.m. ET. 'Situation Stabilized':

In a statement, the Multnomah Co. Sheriff's Office says the situation at the school has been "stabilized" and "the shooter is confirmed deceased."

The office did not mention any injuries or other fatalities.


Police cordon off area in Chicago
(David Schaper/NPR)
May 29, 2014

NPR Reporter Witnesses One Of Chicago's Latest Shootings

Gun violence in Chicago is so common in some neighborhoods that the daily reports of shootings can seem like little more than numbers. Our reporter saw the dangers of Chicago's South Side firsthand.

An NPR report about guns in Chicago included an all-too-real example of violence, after a burst of gunfire erupted down the street from where NPR's David Schaper was conducting an interview Wednesday. He had been speaking to a neighborhood activist when a gunman opened fire nearby.

David was out reporting a story on the effort by Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel to require video recordings of every gun purchase and a limit of one gun per customer per month. The city wants to put those rules in place soon, after a federal judge overturned Chicago's longtime ban on gun shops earlier this year.

The radio story that aired on Thursday's Morning Edition is jarring, as a talk about community engagement is suddenly overcome by shots that rang out shortly after kids had gotten out of school.

David had been talking with Asiaha Butler, a community booster and blogger, on her porch in the city's South Side neighborhood of Englewood when their conversation was derailed by a fusillade of gunfire. Parents immediately rushed to get their kids inside, and while no one on Butler's porch was hurt, the incident marred a conversation about progress in the neighborhood.

Here's how David describes it:

"About 30 or 40 yards away, a man is standing outside a car firing a large semi-automatic rifle at a target around the corner we cannot see.

"Asiaha pushes the little girl indoors and some people duck down and scurry, while some of us just watch in bewilderment — while the shooter gets back into his car and drives down the street right in our direction."

The man had been firing at a van, David says:

"Police say it was found at a nearby hospital with bullet holes on all four sides, though some could have been from shots that went all the way through.

"One passenger in the van, a 28-year-old male, was hit — the bullet lodged in his head just behind his ear. Police say it's a serious injury, possibly life threatening. The victim was initially conscious and talking but a detective tells me he refused to cooperate with investigators."

Like others who had been on the porch, David says he was shocked — and that the scene was "made all the more surreal" when an ice cream truck passed by minutes later, blaring its cheerful music down the block as police rushed to the scene.

"This is not typical," another neighborhood leader, Demond Drummer, tells David.

"It's far too common, but it's not normal," he said.

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U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon on Monday announced a new federal violent-crimes unit that will use federal statutes to address Chicago's gang and gun problem.
(Andrew Nelles/AP)
April 25, 2014

After Violent Weekend, Feds Create Unit To Combat Chicago Crime

The new U.S. attorney in Chicago is making good on a promise to focus on Chicago street violence. The announcement of a federal violent crimes unit comes in the aftermath of a violent Easter weekend in the city that left nine dead and dozens more wounded.

When U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon took on the job as the head federal prosecutor in the Chicago region in October, the office was already under pressure to help do something about Chicago's violence epidemic. Fardon said the city can't arrest its way out of the problem, but he recognized that it was a situation his office could not ignore.

"We are not the full puzzle, but we are an important piece of the puzzle and we'll be aggressive and strategic in going after the worse of the worst," Fardon said. "So we have to focus on the gang leaders and we have to focus on the violent offenders and we will do that and we'll do it with vigor."

This month, a 16-member violent-crimes unit began operating under Fardon's watch. There are no new prosecutors or even more money. Fardon's office says this is a reorganization that typically takes place after a new U.S. attorney takes over. The new unit will use drug and gun laws along with money-laundering and extortion statutes to target gang leaders.

Patrick Collins, a former U.S. prosecutor, says that's a traditional approach.

"The federal prosecutor's office in the violent-crimes space is not going to be successful in taking individual guns off the street or not going to be successful in volume arrests," Collins says.

The success, says Collins, comes in targeting gangs and using federal resources like wiretaps to take out gang leaders. What's different and challenging in Chicago, he says, is the lack of gang leadership.

"If you have a lot of fractured gangs creating some of these violent problems, taking out any one of them isn't necessarily going to move the needle," Collins says.

Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy, who along with the city's mayor has pushed for help from the feds, says the number of shootings and murders in the city last year reached some of the lowest levels in decades. Even so, he admits the Easter weekend shootings were part of a very bad week.

"It doesn't wipe out what's happened over the last two years, but it certainly is a wake-up call that we have a lot of work to do," McCarthy says.

Since the Easter weekend shootings, it's been serene on one South Side Chicago street where five young people were injured, including an 11-year-old girl who was critically wounded in a drive-by attack. That shooting took place near a playground across from a row of tidy single-family homes with neatly trimmed lawns.

College student Renaldo Shanklin, 19, lives on the block and says the street, full of elderly residents and an elementary school, is typically peaceful. He welcomes any help from the federal government to keep it that way.

"I feel like there aren't no particular gang leaders, it's still good to target the actual gangs," Shanklin says.

When it comes to the new federal unit, though, Collins says the public will have to understand what many won't want to hear: that building any federal case against individuals involved in the city's violent crime epidemic will take time.

Listen

The Chicago skyline. The city's police chief says his officers can't keep up with the number of illegal weapons on the city's streets.
(Carolyn Kaster/AP)
April 23, 2014

45 People Were Shot In Chicago Over The Weekend

There are more data to add to Chicago's well-documented problem with gun violence.

Headlines such as this from the Chicago Sun-Times — "In violent weekend, at least 8 dead, 37 wounded in shootings across Chicago" — set us off in search of news reports after previous weekends.

There's a rather grim trend. Shootings are on the rise:

— "At least 36 people have been shot, four of them killed ... in Chicago violence since Friday." (NBC Chicago on April 14)

— "27 People Shot In Chicago This Weekend, Including 16-Year-Old In Front Of His Church." (The Huffington Post's Black Voices blog, on April 7)

As our colleagues at WBEZ have reported, Chicago's lawmakers have toughened the city's gun laws.

But The Daily Beast notes that Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says that while his officers have seized 1,500 illegal guns so far this year, "it's like running on a hamster wheel. ... We're drinking from a fire hose, seizing these guns, and people are back out on the street."

Part of the explanation for the weekly increase in weekend shootings, authorities say, is the shift from winter to spring that apparently brings out the worst in some people.

Many of the shootings are gang-related, police say. According to the Chicago Tribune, among this past weekend's incidents was one in which:

"Five children, ranging in age from 11 to 15, were shot by someone who fired from a car shortly after 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the 6600 block of South Michigan Avenue in the Park Manor neighborhood on the South Side, police said.

"The children had been playing at a park near an elementary school and were walking home when a car pulled up and someone asked if they were in a particular gang, family members and police said.

"One relative said they had said they were not in the gang; another said shots rang out before they could answer. The gunman hit four girls and a boy."


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