PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A murder Sunday night at an infamous Peoria gas station is now fueling a call for action.
More than 40 friends and family members came out to remember Joshua Perkins, 34, at a vigil Monday evening.
The vigil took place at the Shell gas station on North MacArthur Highway, where Perkins was shot and killed Sunday night. Peoria police arrested two teens just hours later, Arenza C. Brown, 18, and a 17-year-old, for first-degree murder, attempted aggravated armed robbery and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Love-ones struggled to find the words to their heartbreak of losing Perkins.
“If you look at my eyes, you see they’re red,” Graylin Douglas, Perkins’ cousin, said. “My cousin just died last night.”
Perkins’s cousins described him as one of the most loyal and loving people they’ve known.
“He was always there when you needed him, if you needed a shoulder to cry on you could always call on him,” Alissa Fitzpatrick, Perkins’ cousin, said.
“He’s not a bad person,” Douglas said. “To me, he actually is a perfect person when it comes to his kids.”
Fitzpatrick said while the family tries to put the pieces together, she hopes those arrested realize the devastating impact of their actions.
“Hopefully they really sit there and think about they just took somebody’s life,” Fitzpatrick said. “Ain’t no bringing that back, he’s gone.”
Community leaders said the gas station in question has been a hot spot for crime for years.
“Everything from drug sales to loitering, to shots fired,” Denise Jackson, First District Councilwoman, said.
Jackson said just last Wednesday, the day after she was sworn in, she held a meeting with Peoria’s city manager, police chief, code enforcement, and members of Southside Community United For Change to discuss speaking with the owners of MacArthur Plaza Investments and ask them to close the facility down early to prevent more crime.
“Summer’s coming and we know sometimes people don’t go to bed during the summertime,” Jackson said. “We have had reports that there have been 50-100 cars in that parking lot during the overnight hours.”
Jackson said people have also told her they’ve even stopped going to the CEFCU bank in the area out of fear. She said this is a quality of life issue.
City records also the facility has accumulated more than $81,000 worth of code violations since 2018.
Jackson said, due to the history of the area, taking preventative action such as closing the facility down at 11 p.m. could save future lives.
“We would like them to just kind of shut down, put some chains barricades around the parking lot,” Jackson said. “Something similar to what the previous owners did.”
Jackson also said she has a follow-up meeting Wednesday, May 12, with the same people present at the last meeting to further discuss ways to make that area safe.