Jacksonville Police Chief Adam Mefford says that the investigation into the string of shootings over the last week is very active.
Mefford says the shootings are being investigated by multiple agencies across multiple jurisdictions. He says the investigation has led police to believe that all of the shooting incidents over the past week are connected: “That behavior will not be tolerated in this community. We will put every resource forward that we have to get those individuals either off the streets, in jail, or into the system – whatever we need to do. Whatever the beef is between those individuals, we believe that this is some sort of beef between a small group of individuals, a small faction of people. We believe that some of them are not from the Jacksonville area. We believe that a few of them are possibly from the Jacksonville area, and we believe that we may be dealing with some juveniles. With the investigation going forward, if these juveniles are out there and their family members have information, we really encourage people to come forward with this information. We know there is people out there with information.”
Mefford asks the public to utilize the anonymous tip lines through Crimestoppers or the Jacksonville Police’s Investigative Division to provide information. He says that investigators need that corroborating information to put all of what Mefford characterized as a giant puzzle together. Mefford says he has a message for the alleged perpetrators who may be listening or reading online: “To these juveniles out there that think that this behavior is acceptable in our community, we are going to ask the prosecutors to charge them as adults. We are not messing around with gun play in Jacksonville. If you are going to shoot up my neighborhoods and our streets and make it unsafe for those people who have nothing to do with this [disagreement] – you don’t know what that intended target is with random gunfire into cars and homes. There are innocent people out here trying to have [peace], watch TV at night in their living rooms, their kids playing in the yard. It’s hot out – people are in their pools. We don’t need random gunfire going over people’s heads and into other people’s houses. We don’t need that at all and we’re not going to tolerate it. Those people that think that ‘oh, they are just juveniles’ or ‘they will get a slap on the wrist’ – we are going to ask the prosecutors, when we put these individuals behind bars, to charge them as adults in these situations.”
Mefford also provided an update on the investigation as it stands: “We have possession of 5 firearms. We’ve taken custody of 2 vehicles for processing. We have some people of interest but no one in custody at this time. Again, that’s where we need the public’s help. We know there is information out there, and we ask that they come forward and help us corroborate these facts so we can get these individuals off our streets here in Jacksonville and other communities.”
Mefford wished to thank all the officers in the police department, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, the Village of South Jacksonvile police department, and West Central Dispatch for their massive coordination of all the crime scenes from Tuesday evening. He said that 3 separate shifts mobilized in a matter of an hour to begin securing and processing the crime scenes. He says it’s one of the reasons why the departments are all invited to train together, especially for unprecedented events like this one. Mefford said it was the first time in nearly a decade that he had to assist in processing a crime scene.
He says that he has reached out to the Illinois State Police and the Springfield Police Department to continue to assist in ballistics testing and forensics: “We have a long standing relationship with Chief [Kenny] Winslow and the Springfield Police Department. They have assisted us several times in the past and have offered us their crime lab to help with processing evidence in a timely fashion. We work really well with them since we are in such close proximity to one another.”
Mefford says that coordination efforts with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department yesterday and more information may be coming soon.