BLACC pushes for community healing after Carbondale officer shooting

The Carbondale Police officer shot and injured late Sunday night is on his way home to heal.

Police say 26-year-old Trey Harris was released from a St. Louis hospital Tuesday afternoon. He will need more treatment going forward. Harris has been with the department for more than three years.

So far in 2016, there have been 15 shootings in Carbondale, including Harris. Plotted on a map, 13 of the shootings are in a 2 by 1.4 mile area.

Records show police have responded to 82 incidents in the past month, but in the neighborhood where Harris was shot — from East Fischer Street, south to East Main Street and Northern Illinois Avenue west to North Wall Street — there have been nine incidents, including five cases of theft.

Police records show gun violence in Carbondale is at its highest level in 10 years.

After the shock of the shooting went away, members of the new community action group Black Love Adjoining Communities Collectively, or BLACC, say they’re worried about what might happen next.

The news that a police officer was shot hit many in the Carbondale community hard. Members of BLACC say their goal is to improve the relationship between the black community and police. Police released information Monday afternoon that on Sunday night they were looking for two black men suspected of shooting an officer responding to a call of shots fired, and then shooting at police during a chase. BLACC member Brandi Gayles says she heard the news, and she worried their group and their movement would be over.

"Wow. Our movement is done. Where do we go from here?" Gayles asked. She lives in Carbondale with her kids. She says her family and countless others are all scared about what may happen next. She said she’s scared to let her kids and their friends be outside after dark, in case something happens between them and police.

BLACC member Jonathon Moore says they need to improve the relationship among police, the city and the black community now more than ever.

"It’s 100 times more important now then it was three days ago," said Moore.

“But we need to sit down and talk through our issues," said Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry.

Henry said improving that relationship will help. He said although Harris was shot in the northeast side of town, that’s not typically a bad part of town. But he said it does have an unfairly bad reputation.

"You know, most of our crime occurs right here, you know, just west of city hall. That’s where it is," Henry said.

Henry said officers work to make the community safer, though people may not see them in the community taking guns off the street.

But Moore says he worries about more violence breaking out between police and the community unless more is done to bridge the gap and improve the relationship.

"If anything, now is when we need this relationship, because if we don’t try to do something, try to bridge that gap, it’s going to get bad," Moore said.

Moore and Gayles say they have not heard back from police since the shooting, but they say they’re still willing to work together with police to improve the relationship. They say they need it now to help the city heal together.

The Carbondale Police Department declined our request to interview Tuesday for this story.

Police say they need your help finding the people responsible for Sunday night’s shooting, if you think you know something contact police immediately.

You can donate to Harris and his family by giving to the Carbondale Police Department’s injured officer’s fund. Any money donated will go directly toward Harris or an official fundraiser is one is established online.

You can donate at:

City of Carbondale Police Department

CPD Injured Officers Fund

501 South Washington Street

Carbondale, Illinois 62901

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