Family questions motive in Peoria's first homicide

By Ashley McNamee

February 5, 2014 Updated Feb 6, 2014 at 12:12 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- A 30-year-old Peoria man is dead Wednesday after a shooting at the Landmark Apartment complex.

Police have arrested three men for the crime. Two of the men are known Zone 4 gang members targeted by the city's anti-crime program Don't Shoot.

Police said the shooting stemmed from a drug deal and robbery in broad daylight on Peoria's Southside Wednesday morning.

Within an hour Justin Thompson was pronounced dead from multiple gunshot wounds and the suspects were in custody.

Police said witnesses lead them to the apartment where they arrested 21-year-olds Denzell Gayton, Orlando Mathews and Duane Simmons.

Police said they also found five guns, including the murder weapon,marijuana and cocaine in that apartment.

A fresh coating of snow, freezing temperatures and broad daylight. Those three things usually prevent crime, but not Wednesday. Now a family is grieving and police are trying to make sense of the crime.

"To have his life taken by someone who didn't give it makes me angry. I'm not going to lie," said Jasmyne Providence, the victim's sister.

Providence lost her younger brother Justin Thompson Wednesday after he was shot multiple times in the chest. She thinks he got caught in a situation that didn't concern him.

"For him to just be coming out of a house and going back into a house and getting shot, that doesn't seem right. That was no drug deal," said Providence.

Police say drugs contributed to the shooting and witnesses helped them solve the murder in less than an hour.

"We received several phone calls, we had witnesses approach us while we were at the scene, the officers were quick to respond to the scene and we were able to shut the area down quickly," said Capt. Mike Eddleman, Peoria Police Department.

The police chief says the arrests prove the Don't Shoot program is targeting the right people.

"The individuals who were at the call-in were picked because we thought they represented the most dangerous gang and gang members in the city," said Chief Steve Settingsgaard. "It's an indication we had the right people in the room."

Providence just hopes her brother didn't die in vain.

"I'm going to miss him a whole lot and our family is going to miss him. I just hope that lessons are learned," she said.

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