Mundelein man shot near U of I was to begin nursing job Monday
A Mundelein man shot to death early Sunday when gunfire erupted near the University of Illinois campus in Champaign was an innocent bystander, authorities say.
George Korchev, 22, was one of five people to suffer gunshot wounds in separate, but possibly related, shootings stemming from an altercation at an off-campus party.
Authorities say Korchev was walking in the area when the shooting occurred and not involved in the altercation that proceeded it. Police were searching for suspects, but as of Sunday night no one was in custody.
Korchev was pursuing a career in medicine. Friend Justin Konieczny described him as an "all-around amazing guy" who cared deeply about his family, school and work.
"(Korchev) was always smiling and laughing and making sure everyone around him was as well," Konieczny said. "Mundelein will miss George for a long time."
A man who answered the door at the Korchev family home in Mundelein declined to comment Sunday.
Having recently passed his nursing board exam, Korchev was expected to start a new position Monday as a registered nurse at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, according to a statement from hospital President Dominica Tallarico. He was previously a patient care technician.
"George was a valuable team member who was loved by his patients and known as a skilled, empathetic and selfless caregiver," she said.
Korchev's career path was true to his character, Konieczny said, as his end goal was always to help others.
He was a 2012 graduate of Mundelein High School, Ron Girard, public information officer for Mundelein High School District 120, confirmed in an email. The school's counseling staff will be available Monday to help students who might need support, he said.
Jennifer Wylie Fallon, who taught Korchev in a precalculus class at Mundelein High, said he stands out among the hundreds of students she's instructed in her 25 years at the school.
"George is the kind of kid you remember right away because he had personality plus," she said. "Not all students want to be interactive with their teachers, but he was. It's the kids that are interactive with you that leave a long-lasting impression."
Champaign Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen issued a statement calling the shooting "senseless gun violence."
"On behalf of the City of Champaign, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of George Korchev, and the other innocent victims of the tragic shootings earlier this morning," she said.
According to a statement from Jeff Christensen, chief of the University of Illinois Police Department, Korchev was not a student at the university. One of the injured victims is a student, he said.
"Law enforcement agencies are working hard to find the person or people responsible for these crimes," Christensen said. "The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs is providing support to the student who was injured and will provide counseling to any students who want to talk to someone in the coming days. Our campus community is a strong one, and our thoughts are with the victims, their families and anyone else affected by this violence."
A candlelight vigil to remember Korchev and pray for the other shooting victims will be held 7 p.m. Tuesday on the University of Illinois' Main Quad. The event will include a moment of silence, speeches from campus leaders and information about the resources available to students.
Korchev and three others were found shot at 12:38 a.m. Sunday by police responding to reports of shots fired on the 300 block of East Green Street, just west of campus, according to a statement from Champaign police.
He was pronounced dead at 1:02 a.m. at Carle Foundation Hospital, police said. The three others wounded suffered nonlife-threatening injuries.
A fifth person who was running from the gunfire was struck by a vehicle on Green Street and received minor injuries, according to police. The driver of the vehicle, who was also fleeing the scene, has come forward and is cooperating with authorities, police said.
Police said their preliminary investigation indicates an argument during an apartment party in the 300 Block of East Green precipitated the shooting. The argument moved outside, where a fight broke out and shots were fired, police said.
Like Korchev, none of the other victims were involved in the fight, police said.
About 30 minutes after the initial shooting, police received another report of gunfire less than a mile away in the 700 block of South State Street. Upon arrival, officers found a victim with a noncritical gunshot wound, police said.
Of the four surviving shooting victims, three have been discharged from the hospital, police said, and one is still in the hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries.
Police believe the two shootings may be related, and investigators are searching for a suspect or suspects in both. Anyone who was at the party or who may have witnessed the shootings is urged to contact the Champaign Police Investigations Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or (217) 351-4545.