A man who gained notoriety for firing upon a fellow student in a crowded Peoria high school hallway – then had his prison term for the crime significantly reduced on appeal – has been arrested in connection with a recent wave of gun violence.
Dione Alexander, 21, with a last known address of 921 S. Folkers Ave., turned himself in to police Wednesday. He was questioned and arrested in connection to shootings June 16 at 1916 W. Marquette Ave. and Sunday at 1204 W. Millman St. He was booked on charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm, armed violence and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in each case.
Police also have made three other arrests – Dietrich J. Richardson II, 22, of 217 S. Western Ave.; Tristan L. Shelton, 19, of 2817 W. Marquette Ave.; and an unidentified juvenile – related to two weekend shootings.
Deandte M. Lewis, 19, of 510 W. McClure Ave. additionally was arrested Saturday for allegedly shooting Darian T. Johnson in the buttock June 16 in the 2800 block of West Wiswall Street. Lewis was released from Peoria County Jail on Monday with a notice to appear in court, though it is unclear what charges he will face.
Alexander was a 15-year-old freshman at Woodruff High School in January 2005 when he opened fire on a boy with whom he had been feuding. No one was injured, but the school and neighborhood were locked down for hours and increased school security measures followed the incident.
The intended target, Omar Porter, also has made headlines in the years since the incident for gun and drug crimes for which he has repeatedly been sent to prison.
Peoria County Judge James Shadid sentenced Alexander to 24 years in prison after he was convicted of the Woodruff shooting in 2006, but that term was later overturned by the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa. When the case returned to Shadid’s courtroom for a new sentence, he again imposed the 24-year term.
The identical sentence prompted the appellate judges to take the rare step of imposing a new, vastly reduced term of six years for Alexander because the judges insisted Shadid had not properly considered the shooter’s troubled childhood and put too much emphasis on the location of the shooting, at a school.
Judges Mary K. O’Brien and Mary McDade agreed in the 2-1 decision that the reduced term was appropriate, while Judge William Holdridge dissented. By the time that decision was handed down, it essentially amounted to an order for early release, and Alexander was paroled in July 2009.
Police now believe he was involved in a shooting about 3:10 p.m. June 16 at the Marquette Street address. A man was shot in the lower calf as he sat outside his house.
He is also suspected in the shootings at a South Peoria house party early Sunday. Authorities were called to 1204 W. Millman St. about 12:15 a.m. after shots were fired from a vehicle – possibly parked on Butler Street behind the Millman address – into a group of about 50 or 60 teenagers. When police arrived, no one claimed to have been shot.
But a second call of shots fired came in about 2 a.m. at 2129 W. Wiswall St., and police found six people there with gunshot wounds. Two of the victims apparently were shot during the first incident and went to the Wiswall Street location. None of the victims – aged 16 to 19 – was seriously injured.
Peoria police issued a notice for officers to arrest Alexander in connection with the shooting on Millman Street late Tuesday, and he was nearly apprehended in Peoria Heights within a matter of hours but escaped.
A Peoria Heights police officer spotted Alexander walking from 804 E. Paris Ave. with 19-year-old resident Jacqueline Bullins to a vehicle parked outside the home just after 12 a.m. Wednesday. The officer attempted to apprehend Alexander, but he fled on foot and escaped.
Officers took the driver of the vehicle, Shelton, into custody and found several small packages of marijuana in his pocket. On the passenger seat of the car was a loaded handgun, which police also seized.
Shelton’s connection to the shooting on Millman Street on Sunday is unclear, but he was booked on a charge of attempted murder for that incident. Charges related to the incident during which he was apprehended in Peoria Heights include armed violence, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a firearm without a valid firearm owner’s identification card, possession of a firearm projectile, possession of 10 to 30 grams of marijuana and possession of 10 to 30 grams of marijuana with intent to deliver.
Shelton was convicted in 2008 of possession of between 30 and 500 grams of marijuana with intent to deliver and sentenced to 30 months in prison. Prior to that, he had served stints in juvenile prison on stolen vehicle and weapons charges. According to the Department of Corrections website, he was not on parole at the time of the alleged shootings.
The second arrest related to the Sunday shootings occurred in South Peoria on Tuesday and appears unrelated to the incident in Peoria Heights. Richardson was taken into custody near his home after an armed robbery about 4:40 p.m. in the parking lot of JJ Fish and Chicken, 913 S. Western Ave.
A customer was robbed at gunpoint of his wallet and cell phone, and police took Richardson into custody while investigating that crime, though he is not suspected of participating in the robbery.
Richardson was booked on charges of six counts of attempted murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm in an occupied vehicle, felon in possession of a weapon and obstructing justice. The charges are connected to both Sunday shootings. He was convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in August 2008 and sentenced to two years of probation and 30 days in jail. The probation was scheduled to lapse in less than two months.
Police still are investigating the armed robbery of a local restaurant.
At about 8:40 p.m. Monday, two men armed with guns robbed the Spotted Cow at 718 W. Glen Ave. and escaped on foot with an undetermined amount of cash.
A description of the robbers was not available from police Monday night.
No one in the restaurant was injured. Police have not made any arrests.
For the second time in about as many weeks, masked gunmen robbed a Central Peoria gas station.
About 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, two males entered Circle K, 2416 N. University St., and demanded money from the clerk.
One of the males, armed with two guns, ordered a lone customer to lie face down on the floor while he yanked the victim’s wallet out of his pocket, reports stated. The other robber, also armed, turned his attention on the clerk, stealing an undisclosed amount of money from the cash register.
Witnesses reported seeing the men run south on University toward MacQueen Avenue after the robbery.
On Jan. 26, three men robbed the same gas station, pilfering cigarettes and taking money from the safe.
That crime, like Tuesday’s, remains unsolved and comes on the heels of more than two dozen similar robberies plaguing the city since the end of December.
The hold-up of yet another business in Peoria on Monday night has some working in retail wondering if the crime spree will soon come to an end.
The armed robbery to Big Lots, 3013 N. Sterling Ave., about 8:20 p.m. by a man with a knife is the latest in a wave of heists plaguing the city.
No injuries were reported, though the robber poked an employee in the back with the knife until the cash register was emptied.
From bakeries and bars to video and convenience stores, it seems no business is safe. In January, there were 22 armed robberies, two to four a day in some instances.
“I don’t know what is going on. It seems like every day there’s another one. It’s crazy,” said a manager at of one of the two Butternut Bread thrift stores in Peoria. “You work in retail and you always have a chance of getting robbed. Police need to do something.”
Police have beefed up patrols but with so many robberies and very few leads, it’s difficult to know if one or more people or groups are responsible.
“It could be the same two people every time,” Peoria police spokesman Doug Burgess said. “But until we can pin it down, we’re not going to know for sure.”
Police thought they had put a stop to the robberies with the arrests of two teens last week after a botched purse snatching outside the Circle K gas station on Knoxville Avenue. One of the alleged robbers, Christopher Young, 18, of Peoria was arrested a second time over the weekend for the Jan. 10 armed robbery of two patrons of the Elbo Room, 631 W. Main St.
But even with those arrests, the robberies continue to occur.
“They’re hitting whoever,” said the Butternut manager, not wanting to give her name. “It’s a nervous situation.”
Because their stores have been held up three times since Dec. 29, bakery management has allowed the thrift stores to close an hour earlier, at 5 p.m. The businesses also are installing an upgraded security system.
“Hopefully that will help,” said the manager. “We don’t know what else to do to stay safe.”
Peoria is not alone in struggling to solve the cases.
Three of the robberies have occurred just outside city limits in Peoria County. In less than a week, Family Video, 3218 W. Harman Highway, was robbed twice, along with the U.S. Cellular store across the street.
“We are in communication with Peoria, comparing notes and working together to resolve this string of robberies,” said Peoria County Sheriff’s Capt. Dave Briggs. “We know from descriptions it’s not always the same people.”
Police have described the robbers as black men in their mid-teens to mid-20s. They range in height from 5 feet, 4 inches tall to 6 feet, 1 inch tall with medium builds. They wear dark clothing, gloves and sometimes black ski masks.
Some of the robberies may be linked because of the mannerisms of the suspects, but police have declined to elaborate on the suspects’ behavior because of the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information about the robbers or armed robberies can call CrimeStoppers anonymously at 673-9000 or the Peoria Police Department at 673-4521.
When the police do something about these nigger gangs?
Answer=Never. Stand up whitey, join the struggle today.
A South Peoria man was arrested after a gunfight at a gas station late Christmas Day.
Tuison D. Chalk, 24, of 1515 W. Widenham St. was arrested on weapons charges following the fight, which resulted in no injuries, at Circle K gas station, 2416 N. University St.
Several shots were fired inside the gas station about 11:50 p.m. before the large group of men fled in several different directions, according to police reports.
Witnesses told police one man fled on foot northbound on University, several fled southbound in a car and several others fled southbound on foot.
Minutes later, police were dispatched to the 1000 block of East Thrush Avenue, three blocks south of the gas station, on reports of several more shots fired. Chalk was arrested there and booked on charges of unlawful use of a weapon, aggravated discharge of a firearm and not having a valid firearm owner’s identification card.
An Avanti’s delivery driver was robbed by two men Saturday night in the East Bluff.
The 26-year-old man was sent to 1904 N. Indiana Ave. to drop off an order. When he arrived in the area about 7 p.m., he was unable to find the address, which was because it didn’t exist, police later told him.
He called the number given with the order and the man on the line told him to go to another address in the 1900 block of Indiana Avenue, according to a police report. He didn’t see anyone approach the door at the home, and while waiting by his car, two men came from behind the residence and pointed a gun at him. One said, “Give me what you got,” the report stated.
The delivery man gave them an unknown amount of money from his pocket, and they also took money from inside his car, the report stated. Then, they ran east in an alley east of Nebraska Avenue.
Its just another typical day in Peoria. And still the media and new papers refuse to acknowledge that Peoria has a major Nigger problem.
A 50-year-old man was beaten and robbed Saturday evening while walking through the shuttered Harrison Homes.
The victim told police he was walking near the housing complex about 6:30 p.m., when he was approached by five men. One asked him for money, and when he replied he had none they began kicking and punching him, according to a Peoria police report.
The attackers stole his wallet, containing an undisclosed amount of money, his cell phone and his keys. One of the robbers attempted to snatch the man’s boot, but was unsuccessful.
The attack left the man, however, with a broken ankle, and he had to drag himself to a nearby bar to call for help, according to the report. The victim was treated at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center for the broken ankle and released.
He could not give a description of the young men, except that they wore “bling,” the report stated.
No arrests had been made as of Sunday night.