PEORIA, Ill. City of Peoria officials held a press conference Tuesday afternoon regarding a shooting that left a four-year-old boy dead and an adult male injured in Peoria on Monday night.
Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion III said at approximately 5:42 p.m., police responded to a ShotSpotter alert of 22 rounds fired, with 19 shell casings found. Upon arrival, police found two victims at the Lincoln Terrace Apartments, 2825 W. Ann St.
One of the victims, 4-year-old Jeremiah Ward, suffered life threatening injuries and was transported to an area hospital. He was pronounced dead just after 6:30 p.m., Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said.
Harwood said the child suffered three gunshot wounds: twice in the back and once in the arm. He died at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center of massive internal bleeding.
The other victim, a 23-year-old adult man, was shot in the leg and is expected to recover.
Tuesday, Marion said the two victims were in a car with two other people on Monday and pulled into the driveway of the apartment building, when someone began to fire on the vehicle moments later. The police chief said it was a targeted shooting, aimed at the driver, who was the 23-year-old victim.
Marion said police are looking for one of the passengers, who fled the scene. The other passenger was Ward’s mother. She was not injured.
Ward exited the vehicle, started heading towards the apartments and then began to go back to it, when he was struck by gunshots. Marion said Ward was an unintended victim.
Marion said he believes people with direct knowledge to the fatal shooting are not coming forward.
“That is what is frustrating about where we are in this case right now,” he said. “When you have a four-year-old injured, dead, why anybody would hold information, I have no idea.”
Harwood said he has spoken with Ward’s parents.
“Mom describes Jeremiah as a loving child who randomly would run up to her and kiss her and hug her and tell her he loves her,” Harwood said. “I can’t express the support the family is going to need, as well as the community.”
The Peoria Community Against Violence (PCAV) and the Peoria Police Department canvassed earlier Tuesday, asking the community to help them go door-to-door to find answers and information regarding the shooting.
Peoria At-Large City Councilwoman Rita Ali was also in attendance of the press conference, and said she is asking the “caring community to be strong” and to get justice for Ward.
“We can’t be at peace until we get justice for Jeremiah,” Ali said. “[…] Making people accountable and helping our police force.”
Marion agreed, saying the person responsible needs to be brought to justice, and that they need the community’s help.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Peoria Police Department at (309) 673-4521 or anonymously at Greater Peoria Crime Stoppers at (309) 673-9000.
The entire press conference can be watched below.