Police: Fatal shooting may have been a drug buy gone bad

By WEEK Producer

February 5, 2014 Updated Feb 6, 2014 at 10:35 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Police have arrested three suspects in a fatal shooting outside an apartment complex.

It is the city's first homicide of 2014.

It happened over the lunch hour at the Landmark Apartments at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Hightower just a few blocks from downtown Peoria.

Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said the three suspects were arrested in an apartment near where the shooting occurred. Police also executed a search warrant and found drugs and guns inside the apartment.

Police said witnesses saw the victim, Justin Thompson, 30, get shot in the chest. Police said he was in bad shape when he left the scene and died a short time later at the hospital.

He did not live in the apartment complex.

"There's certainly a drug element, a drug transaction," Settingsgaard said. "There may be a robbery element as well. There certainly was a drug buy involved in this incident."

Police announced Wednesday night that they had arrested Duane Simmons, Denzell Gayton and Orlando Mathews, all 21 years old.

Two of the men are known members of Zone 4, one of Peoria's most problematic street gangs. One man was at the last Don't Shoot call-in in December.