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3 Champaign police officers injured in shooting
A Champaign, Ill., police officer marks the site of spent shell casings, Thursday night, June 7, 2007, in Champaign, while investigating the area where three Champaign police officers were injured in a shooting at the city park, according to the Champaign Police Department. (AP Photo/The News-Gazette, Robert K. O'Daniell)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A homeless man who police say shot three officers at a downtown park has a past weapons-related conviction, police Chief R.T. Finney and the state Department of Corrections said Thursday.

Donnell Clemons served six months in jail in 1997 after he was convicted of carrying and possessing a firearm, Corrections Department spokeswoman Januari Smith said.

Finney said police knew that Clemons, 46, lived in his car and sometimes parked it on the street near West Side Park, where Thursday night's shootout occurred.

Police were called to the park about 7:40 p.m. by someone reporting a man with a gun, and found Clemons in his car, the chief said.

"Our officers did not have their weapons out. They were walking up to the car when he started shooting," Finney said at a news conference. "What his motives were, as to what he was thinking, I'm not sure."

Police shot Clemons several times, and he was in critical condition Friday at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Finney said. The chief wasn't sure how many shots Clemons fired.

Clemons was in custody on suspicion of attempted murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm, Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said. It was not known whether Clemons had an attorney.

Officer Shannon Bridges, 26, was shot in the chest and was recovering Friday at the hospital, Finney said. Her injuries weren't considered life-threatening.

Deputy Chief John Murphy, 44, and Officer Jack Armstrong, 29, also were shot, but were released from the hospital overnight, Finney said.

All wore body armor, which may have saved their lives, Finney said.

Finney said this was the first time a police officer has been shot in Champaign since the early 1970s.

Because the shootings involved Champaign police, the case is being investigated by a task force of officers from Urbana, the Champaign County Sheriff's Department and other area agencies, Finney said.


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