Booming house party puts University of Illinois students on alert

The Urbana Police Department investigates a Saturday night house party in Urbana that ended with gunshots. (WCCU)

The sound of a booming house party is nothing new for college town on Saturday night.

However, University of Illinois sophomore Aya Sellami said this time it was different.

"We heard like a loud boom,” Sellami said. “Our first reaction, we thought it was like fireworks, but then it kept happening again and again. And then we started getting really scared and realized it could be gunshots.”

Sellami was right. She was describing the sounds of shots being fired at a nearby house party in Urbana.

Police said there were about 200 people at the party when they arrived on the scene just after 2:00 Sunday morning.

According to the police investigation, the violence broke out after a group of people tried getting into the party but were denied.

Police said that's when some of the people in that group pulled out guns and robbed two uninvolved people in front of the house.

While this was going on, several people from the house party went outside and that's when police said the shooting started.

Two people at the party were injured in the shooting.

The victims are a 23-year-old woman from Champaign and a 21-year-old University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign student.

They were both taken to the hospital, and are expected to recover.

While the sights and sounds of the shooting shook the neighborhood, some students said the scariest part was the unknown.

"I heard a girl passing through and she was yelling ‘Are you OK?’ Is everyone OK?’ So I guess it was near us like very close,” Sellami said.

Sellami said she waited inside her apartment, expecting to receive a notification from the campus alert system.

"The alerts that the school should've sent, we kept on looking at the emails and we didn't get any sent to us," Sellami said.

Just before noon on Sunday, a safety alert was sent out to students. The alert stated that the crime did not represent a continuing threat to campus.

With only one arrest made and four suspects at large, some people in the neighborhood aren't so sure.

'It's scary because you never know if you could be walking and the person could be right next to you,” Sellami said. “I definitely feel like I hope they catch them soon because you never know what could happen."

Urbana Police are asking for anyone who was at the party with information to call Urbana Crimestoppers at (217) 373- TIPS.

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