Bloomington Police: Prevent gun violence before it starts in 2023

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 4:25 PM CST
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BLOOMINGTON (25 News Now) - The City of Bloomington had five-gun related homicides last year. So far, in 2023 there have been no shots fired incidents or homicides.

Bloomington Police Chief Jamal Simington says the goal is to keep it that way by working with the youth and with a potential gun buyback event.

“Our goal is to be zero throughout 2023 and we really hope we can meet that goal,” said the chief.

Of the five homicides in 2022, three of the cases have suspects and two remain unsolved.

“In the last 3 years, there’s been about a 54% increase in shootings and that’s certainly concerning,” said Simington.

The two unsolved murders were both at house parties. Despite dozens of witnesses, the chief says they still have no suspects.

“We just began a text to tip program. So Tip411 with any information where you can remain anonymous concerning any crime,” said Simington.

Now, Simington is hoping to build a strong relationship with the community and youth.

He’s hoping to secure half a million dollars in grant money from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to host a youth summer camp.

“Our victims, the average age was 24 and a half. Our shooters tend to be in that same age group from late teens to about 30 years of age,” said Simington.

The chief says they’re also hoping to use that money for a gun buyback event.

“We know that 20% of the guns that we recovered last year were stolen from residential burglaries because they were not secured,” said Simington, “Provide another opportunity to take guns off the streets that could perhaps be in the wrong hands in the future.”

Simington says they will know in the next month or so if they’ll receive the grant.

“We want to be a part of the solution,” he said.