Residents of the Holiday Park neighborhood in west Champaign have been experiencing an increase in gun incidents, and residents say sounds of gunfire is now a ‘normality’ for this area.
Travis Ross, leader of the neighborhood group and 10-year resident of Holiday Park said that gunfire incidents are fairly new to the community and have been on the rise for the past six-months.
“I expected it to get better in the Summer and worse in the Fall and it did,” said Ross.
According to Tom Yelich, public information officer at the Champaign Police Department, there have been 174 shooting incidents as of November 23. This number is the highest the city has seen in the last five years, and more numbers will be released after December.
On August 5, the Holiday Park Neighborhood Group, alongside Community Coalition, met with the City of Champaign’s Neighborhood Services Department Coordination Division via Zoom to discuss the increasing gunfire incidents in and around the area. During the meeting, it was reported that the site of the frequent gunfire came from the Country Brook apartments in the 2500 block of West Springfield Avenue and the Gramercy Park Apartments.
Holiday Park Neighborhood Group has assembled numerous times to discuss gunfire-related issues with neighborhood services, but people in the neighborhood feel nothing is changing.
The City of Champaign’s Neighborhood Services Department did not respond to a request for comment.
The Holiday Park neighborhood is known for its affordable housing and its proximity to Centennial High School and Jefferson Middle School. Many families choose this location to be close to their children’s school, but now they are fearing for their safety and wellbeing.
Late Thursday evening on May 14, Ross reported sounds of gunfire coming from outside his window.
In an interview with the News Gazette, Ross said he heard a car driving at approximately 60 mph on Kenwood Road before sounds of gunfire came ‘raining down’ on houses and trees just 100 feet outside his home.
On August 11, Desme Davis took to the online Nextdoor app to report a drive-by shooting that occurred around 11 p.m. This sparked a conversation with neighbors on the app about the closer and more frequent gunfire that had been escalating within the neighborhood since the spring.
“I’m wondering what the City’s plan is to address all of the shootings we’ve had, or if there is even a plan,” replied fellow resident Rochelle Funderberg via Nextdoor.
Residents are Fearful
With three children at home, Ross and his wife have been living life on edge as shootings get more frequent and closer to home.
“I was just walking our dog with my son when he goes, ‘Dad am I gonna get shot?’” Ross said. “You shouldn’t have to feel this way living in this neighborhood.”
Ross said the only solution he has in mind would be more active policing in the neighborhood. He stated despite what many people think, there isn’t much law enforcement present in the community to stop these incidents.