Freeport gangs led to spike in violence last year, police say

Local News

FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — Freeport Police said that violent crime has been on the rise in the city over the last two years.

Investigators said that senseless shootings are leaving too many families in mourning. Freeport Police Chief Matthew Summers said that violence spiked in the city in 2020 and stayed high through 2021. The majority of that is tied to two gangs in their community.

“Fifteen people were struck by gunfire in those incidents, five of those lost their lives,” Summers said.

It is a number that Summers said is unacceptable.

“All the emotions you go through, it’s so much frustration,” Summers said. “Nights my phone rings, ‘we’ve had another shooting’ ‘we’ve had another shooting.’ It’s sad.. it’s sad.”

One major hurdle that Freeport faces is gang violence, according to Summers. The issue dates back nearly 20 years, and people are reportedly fed up with it.

“The overwhelming majority of the violence that we’ve seen here in town is because of these two gangs,” Summers said. “Too many innocent people that had nothing to do with the gang disputes or anything like that have been caught up in the middle of it, and I think Freeport is tired of it.”

Summers said that, while it may seem unrealistic, his goal for 2022 is for the violence to end.

“We lose one person, that’s too many,” Summers said. “No more 16 -year-olds that are shot, no more just guys sitting in their car watching Monday night football that are shot for absolutely no reason.”

The 16-year-old Summers was referring to is Kiahna Clark. Kiahna was murdered in September while hanging out with friends.

“And a car came around and just started shooting,” said Stephanie Baird, Clark’s mother.

Her parents are still seeking answers and justice.

“You gotta speak up,” Baird said. “If you don’t speak up there’s never going to be a change, it’s just going to get worse.”

Tony Clark, Kiahna’s father, had this message for her killers.

“You’re going to get caught, and when you do, I hope you rot in jail, because she didn’t get to live her life so you don’t get to live yours either,” Clark said.

Any information on who killed Kiahna should be given to the Freeport Police Department, (815) 235-8222, or Crimestoppers, (866) 847-7669.

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