DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - After a retaliation shooting in Decatur claimed a person's life Tuesday, Decatur's police chief is calling for people involved to help end the violence.
Police Chief Jim Getz said gun violence in Decatur between two gangs has increased in the last year and resulted in property damage, injuries in death. He said a Springfield shooting death led to retaliation shootings in Decatur, including one that resulted in a person's death Tuesday afternoon.
The Tuesday shooting, which occurred in the area of Pershing Road and Jasper Street, involved someone inside of a vehicle shooting at another vehicle and a person in a vehicle getting hit by gunfire. Keantre Milan, 27, was the person killed.
In an exclusive interview with WAND News, Getz said two gangs with a "deep hatred for each other" are responsible for numerous Decatur shootings and possibly shootings in other places. He added he's concerned that people could be coming from outside of Decatur to seek retaliation for the Tuesday shooting.
In response to that concern, Getz said there are extra Decatur officers on the street. The FBI and Illinois State Police are also helping with increased patrols in the city.
"The violence has got to stop," Getz said. "We know it is two gangs that are doing this. Without pointing fingers and that, they know who they are, they know what they are involved in and it really needs to stop."
Getz expressed some frustration with people in the community not doing more to put a stop to the violence.
"Despite past and numerous calls from me and my Department for assistance from the community, we continue to deal with victims and witnesses that would rather retaliate than give information to get these bad players off the streets," Getz said. "There are influential people in this community that can help end this senseless violence, but instead choose not to get involved. I want to be clear these are not random shootings, as all the shootings had intended targets. With that you have unintended victims that will continue to be in harms way due to the selfishness and a lack of respect for life by these gangsters."
Getz said DPD will continue having "zero tolerance for violence in the community." He said all of these situations will be investigated and police will "aggressively pursue" people in the community who look to hurt others. Federal law enforcement agencies, Illinois State Police and "any other means" will continue to be involved to get the maximum penalty for shooters and people who supply guns to the shooters.
"Over the past several months we have taken several shooters off the streets. We have also arrested people supplying guns to the shooters. We hope the adjudication process results in maximum sentences," Getz went on to say. "The Decatur Police Department has made arrests in 63 percent (which is above the national average) of the murders the last two years and continues to work the cases where no arrest has been made.
We could have a much higher arrest percentage if we received assistance from the community. However, we would much rather the violence end than have murders and shootings take place. It is time for those that have clout in these organizations to end the violence. If not, I promise you, we will do all we can to put you in prison for along time."
Getz said officers are treated poorly by onlookers in many of the investigations. He said officers and detectives have stayed professional and continue working to try and identify suspects.
Anyone with information about any of these shootings or others is asked to come forward to the Decatur Police Department. People can stay anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (217)423-TIPS. People can call Getz's office directly at (217)424-2741.
A statement from Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said the following:
“The City of Decatur will not tolerate this kind of violence in our streets. As Mayor, I fully support Chief Getz and his efforts to reduce gang activity in our community. If that means requesting additional manpower from the FBI and state police, we will do what is necessary to make our streets safe for citizens. If you commit these crimes you will be arrested and prosecuted, and you will be going to prison."