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CHAMPAIGN — The Illini Alert at 4:12 a.m. Thursday could’ve been anything, but Katharine Konas called her son as soon as she saw it.
“I signed up since I know he works on campus, and there are always things happening there,” Konas said.
This time, at least, she was right to be worried: An unidentified man was allegedly trying to shoplift from the Circle K on Green Street where her son, Davonte Mackins, was working.
Mackins told his mom that the man came into the store and tried to take beer without paying for it.
Mackins said he pushed the man, who then “bear hugged” and stabbed him in the back.
Konas didn’t really find out what happened until 11:30 a.m., but she knew something was up.
“Kept calling him, but his power was off, and (I was) driving myself crazy thinking of the worst,” Konas said.
She couldn’t head over and check on him; in July, Konas moved to Fulton, Ky.
It wasn’t until Mackins was released from Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, that he was able to update her and say he was going to be OK.
“Not being there to be there for him or take care of him is driving me crazy,” Konas said. “I told him this was a sign to move away from C-U. I have been asking him for a while.”
Mackins is home safe — he just needed stitches in his back after the incident.
He told Konas he was scared to go back to work.
He’s 20 years old and has been working overnight by himself at the Circle K since he was 19.
“I knew this was going to happen, just waiting for it,” Konas said. “For them to be open 24 hours, no security on campus and only one worker — I have been begging him to find another job.”
Konas said she thinks there should be more security in the area, pointing to the private security force hired by the city of Champaign to make up for staffing shortages in the police department.
“There is always stabbings and shootings in that area,” Konas said. “Why not have the protection for someone who is trying to work to support himself?”
The University of Illinois police department understands Konas’ concerns, given what her son experienced.
But they’d like to note that the area in question “is serviced 24 hours a day by a fully staffed police department. In fact, this particular stretch of Green Street is very likely the most densely and frequently patrolled area in our entire county,” said UI police spokesman Patrick Wade.
Police are still looking for the assailant, who ran from the store.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact University of Illinois police at 217-333-1216.
Witnesses may remain anonymous by calling Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 217-373-8477 (373-TIPS), visiting 373tips.com or providing information through the P3 Tips mobile app.