Two arrested in pellet gun incidents

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois – University of Illinois Police on Thursday night arrested two people who are alleged to have used a pellet gun to shoot several people in the campus area over the course of at least two nights.

A third person who is under 18 years old was identified and issued a no-trespassing notice for all U. of I. property before being picked up by a parent.

The pellet gun incidents prompted two Campus Safety Notices that were emailed to all U. of I. students, faculty and staff after at least seven people were struck with pellets from an air-powered gun on Tuesday evening in Campustown. No serious injuries have been reported.

At about 8:38 p.m. Thursday, two police officers patrolling near Fourth and John streets noticed two people in black masks running across the street. The officers were aware that the suspects in the Tuesday evening incidents were reported to have been wearing masks.

As they turned to approach the people in masks, they were flagged down by a person who reported that he had just been struck with pellets. After quickly collecting that information, the officers continued to stop the suspects.

They found three people walking away from a vehicle parked in the 700 block of South Fourth Street, Champaign. That vehicle matched the description from earlier reports and security camera footage obtained by police after the Tuesday incidents.

One of the people near the car told police that they had been involved in all the reported pellet gun incidents and gave consent for officers to search the vehicle. They found a “Pulsar” brand gun that is designed to discharge water-based projectiles. Officers also found a water bottle containing the pellets.

The two adults arrested for aggravated battery and mob action were Justin Jimenez Diaz and Lorenzo Vasquez, both 19, of Rantoul, Illinois.

Around the same time, police began receiving calls from additional victims who reported that they had been struck with pellets. Including the person who flagged down officers, at least four people were struck by pellets just before the arrests were made. No serious injuries were reported.

Please note, those arrested are presumed innocent until proved guilty, and formal charges may change as cases are adjudicated.