Police Investigate Cause of Shooting That Kills 8-year-old

By Ashley McNamee

August 11, 2011 Updated Aug 13, 2011 at 9:53 PM CDT

An eight-year-old boy died Thursday morning after being shot during a drive-by shooting.

Police say Albert Billups-Wilson was sleeping with two other children when the bullet came through the wall of an upstairs bedroom and struck him in the head. The two other children in the bed were not injured.

In total, three houses were shot at Thursday morning in 40 minutes.

"Retaliation, that's what I believe that what it is," said one neighbor.

The police chief says there could be a connection between the shootings.

"I think there is a good chance the incidents from last night are related and there is a fairly good chance they may be linked to incidents in the past," said Chief Steve Settingsgaard.

Many believe Thursday's shootings and murder date back to December 2010, when police say Keith Long shot Terry Nichols at the Village Green Apartments because of a fight over a girlfriend.

"It is not uncommon to have relationship based violence, but last year it was significantly high and this year we're starting to see that again," said Settingsgaard.

Police say several acts of violence have come from the feud between Nichols and Long. In December, a drive-by shooting at 1311 N. North Street nearly killed Kenya Wilson's 3-year-old after he was shot in head while sleeping. Police say Wilson dated Keith Long's brother and that the bullet was intended for Long.

Then on Thursday the same home on North Street shot at again, this time no one injured.

Instead, a bullet from the drive-by at 1031 E. Behrends Ave. tears through the upstairs wall, killing 8-year-old Albert Billups-Wilson while he was sleeping.

Neighbors say Billup's mother, Latisha Wilson is related to Kenya Wilson. Police recovered shot-gun casings from both scenes Thursday.

"I never understand it. You know, they knew there were kids in the house and they shot it up," said Xatonya Ward, a neighbor and relative. "They killed a baby."

The home at 703 E. Wilcox Ave. was also shot at early Thursday morning for the second time this week.

According to a police report, there was a drive by shooting there Wednesday morning as well. The report lists Keith Long as an occupant and neighbors say he moved out later Wednesday evening.

Since December, multiple crimes with the same players, even the same houses and unintended victims.

"Somebody out there knows who did this and we need to know who that person is," said Mayor Jim Ardis, as he and other city leaders urged the community to come forward with information. "We need to have that person in custody today."

This time, as the community mourns the loss of an innocent child, city officials hope for a different outcome so it doesn't happen again.

Police have offered an anonymous tip-line to call with information, 309-673-9000.

Settingsgaard says crime is still down from last year, but that implementing a crime task force may need to be considered this summer.

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