5 youths arrested in connection with gunfire near Champaign elementary school

By Chicago 4 Min Read

URBANA — Local police have arrested several adolescent males in connection with shots fired near a northeast Champaign elementary school earlier this month while students were outdoors.

Police recovered two guns; several magazines, including a 50-round drum magazine; and almost 400 bullets that were believed to have been used in a shooting that happened about 2:50 p.m. Sept. 14.

Criminal charges have been or will be filed against five youths ranging in age from 11 to 18, including one who pleaded guilty to aggravated unlawful possession of a gun near a school and is awaiting sentencing.

Urbana police Lt. Mike Cervantes said officers responded to several reports of shots being fired that began in the 1400 block of Eads Street in northwest Urbana and continued west across the city line at Wright Street onto Grove Street in northeast Champaign. Champaign police also responded and are part of the ongoing investigation.

Several students were outdoors at Booker T. Washington STEM Academy, 606 E. Grove St., C, when the shooting was going on. None were physically harmed, but students and staff were terrified by the daylight shooting that involved at least five young males who appeared to be in their teens, some of them wearing masks.

Several distraught, crying teachers addressed Champaign school board members and district administrators at a Tuesday night school board meeting. Most expressed their fear at what happened, but several were openly critical of administrators who failed to show up at the school that day or offer emotional support.

Teachers said only Jeremy Canales, a former Champaign police officer who is now director of security and safety for the school district, came to the school that day.

The day after the shooting, police located two boys, ages 15 and 11, in Champaign who they said possessed the guns used in the shooting but were not believed to have fired them the day before. The alleged shooters are two 16-year-old boys and an 18-year-old male, Tyzerion Wesley, who listed an address in the 1100 block of North Third Street, Champaign.

Wesley was arrested Sunday and charged Tuesday with aggravated discharge of a firearm near a school, a Class X felony carrying a mandatory prison term of at least six to 30 years upon conviction.

Judge Brett Olmstead heard probable cause in the case and ordered Wesley temporarily detained until a hearing today, at which time Olmstead will hear more evidence of what occurred.

So far, the judge has been told that video recovered from the school and the neighborhood led police on Sept. 15 to the 15- and 11-year-old boys who were in possession of the guns.

The 11-year-old tried to run from officers while carrying a backpack that contained two guns, magazines and bullets. After they caught him, he identified four others who were with him. He was later released to an adult.

Olmstead was told that when Wesley was arrested Sunday, he admitted being one of the shooters but said one of the two males that he and another youth were shooting at reportedly had displayed a gun to them first.

He also told police he tossed his gun in a nearby alley, but police have not found it.

Cervantes said police found multiple bullet casings in two different spots, leading them to conclude there were two distinct groups firing at each other.

The guns recovered by police have been sent to the state crime lab for analysis.

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