‘He died for me’: Brother of homicide victim in Peoria speaks out

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - A visitor to Peoria critically hurt in a shooting Tuesday night died soon after, marking the city’s 18th homicide of the year. Now, new details on the victim are emerging, including his roots tied to the same place he was shot.

Christopher Tillman, 46, was a former Peoria resident. Raised at the properties formerly known as Taft Homes, he was visiting while away from his family in Mableton, Georgia. Around 9:00 p.m Tuesday night, police responded to the area of NE Madison for a ShotSpotter alert and reports of a victim. That’s where they found Tillman with multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to OSF St. Francis, where he was pronounced dead.

Wednesday, we went back to the scene of the crime and spoke to several residents. Many did not feel comfortable going on camera, but they told us about Tillman’s reputation in the neighborhood. One even called him ‘Mr. Taft Homes.’

The most gripping account came from Ramone Walker, Sr., Tillman’s brother.

“Not everybody knew him, but everybody respect my brother,” he says. “He just had that presence. But he also showed that he wanted to help. He didn’t take no crap.”

Tillman was Walker’s father’s oldest son. According to Walker, the two were planning on starting their own business together, hauling RVs around the country so that he could support his seven children.

The impact that Tillman left behind, Walker says, was unmistakable.

“It’s a vast variety of a lot more that he touched. Not even (just) in Illinois.”

But Walker says he knew Tillman shouldn’t have come back, acknowledging the rough upbringing the two of them had.

“I said ‘Go home, bro, you need to go home, you got kids,’ he said ‘I am home, I live here.’ I wish he didn’t.”

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood agrees.

“You have to leave those people to be successful with moving forward in your life. And you can’t come back to that,” referring to the less than favorable environment the families lived in.

The 18 homicides in Peoria this year is five fewer than this time last year, which broke the homicide record. But Harwood says it’s not indicative of reality.

“There’s now quick fix. There’s no quick fix to solving a violence problem.”

For Walker, he knows the need is great, especially in their home community.

“I know he didn’t want to die down here, but I can almost guarantee he wouldn’t had it no other way,” says Walker, through tears.