PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Peoria neighborhood organization was caught in the crossfire of gun violence during the weekend.
Abigail Larrison runs the Community House Network, an organization focusing on healthy communities and support for at-risk populations, out of her home on Thrush Avenue.
When she returned home after a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, she found gunshot holes of different sizes in walls, windows, and even a Roomba vacuum.
“To be honest, there was no real conversation, no real uproar. It was just another day in the neighborhood. That’s just what’s so heartbreaking. This is part of the experience of living in this neighborhood,” she said.
Larrison said the center wasn’t a target but was hit during street gunfire. Luckily, no one was inside at the time of the shooting.
“There are no words to describe how it makes you feel. That was the second gunfire in the same week. The violence that is present in this neighborhood is overwhelming,” she said.
Bullets also struck her next-door neighbor’s home. Melody Munson wasn’t home but considered what could have happened. There are bullet holes strewn across a cabinet she regularly uses.
“I could have possibly been dead at my house over going to the cabinet. Because I’m always going to the cabinet and I believe the Lord was with me at all times and made sure I wasn’t near the cabinet at the time,” she said.
Larrison is no stranger to gun violence. She said it’s a daily occurrence in Peoria.
“Violence is seen as the way, rather than as something you want to avoid. It’s seen as the solution to these problems. If you don’t fight back, there’s something wrong with you. If you call the police there’s something wrong with you, and if you snitch there’s something wrong with you,” she said.
Peoria City Councilman Chuck Grayeb said he’s extremely concerned and promised to get answers. He also called for courts to be tougher on teens involved in gun violence.
“This is not isolated but an ongoing pattern…There have been a series of events involving high-power weapons. Continuations of unacceptable violence we have been having in this community, a lot of this involving juveniles,” he said.
Grayeb said a multi-agency response with Peoria County, FBI, and ATF is required to tackle gun violence, his number one priority.
“We cannot maintain a great city when having lawless people shooting cars, houses, and people. It just can’t continue,” he said.
The incident is under investigation.