Looters swarm Target, Walmart, other stores in Bloomington-Normal; 'It's senseless, it's sad'
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Looters swarm Target, Walmart, other stores in Bloomington-Normal; 'It's senseless, it's sad'

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A man carries merchandise from Target in the Shoppes at College Hills early Monday, June 1, 2020, in Normal. Police had attempted to secure the store earlier in the evening. 

NORMAL — Overnight confrontations turned violent and devolved into looting at several stores across Bloomington-Normal, police said early Monday. No serious injuries were reported.

Looters broke into Target and the Bloomington-Normal Walmart stores, among others. Walmart and Target were closed Monday.

Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner said his department is working on plans for deploying additional officers Monday, but declined to elaborate. Bloomington police did not comment on plans for Monday.

Police also responded to Best Buy, 2103 N. Veterans Parkway, Bloomington, where looters failed to gain entry. Bleichner said enhanced store security features thwarted break-in attempts at CI Shooting Sports, a firearms business and shooting range at 310 Wylie Drive, and at Beyond/Hello, the new recreational-marijuana business at 501 W. Northtown Road, both in Normal. 

Two people were in custody early Monday and several others were identified as persons of interest but not yet in custody, said Bleichner.

In Bloomington, police Sgt. Jared Bierbaum said more than 15 businesses had been damaged, including Thornton Oil gas station, 1011 N. Hershey Road; Six Points Liquor; Axline Pharmacy, 1210 Towanda Ave.; Freedom Oil, 1311 N. Linden St.; and "many" liquor stores.

Bierbaum reported broken windows, looting and several calls about gunshots. 

At Target, 301 N. Veterans Parkway, Normal, a couple hundred people exchanged words with officers and then started throwing bottles, rocks and bricks after officers turned back a break-in attempt at the store earlier in the night. Bleichner said seven Normal squad cars were damaged.

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A Normal police officer attempts to stop a looter who was leaving Walmart on Greenbriar Drive early Monday, June 1, 2020. The looter drove off before the officer could make an arrest.

"It was very confrontational for a couple of hours and that's when it turned violent," Bleichner said. "It's senseless, it's unnecessary, it's sad. We've had no serious injuries or deaths and we'll do everything we can do keep it that way."

About 35 officers blocked entry to the store, but Bleichner withdrew them to avoid injuries and the looters moved in. He could not address the extent of loss or damages.

He said a few officers suffered minor injuries such as bumps, bruises and scrapes that required first-aid treatment at the scene.

Overnight violence also was reported in Peoria. Champaign police were looking for whoever made a social media post encouraging looting at a local mall, and Springfield encouraged residents to stay home, stopping short of calling it a curfew.

The aftermath

Around 4 a.m., police were at the Target store bringing out material as an alarm blared from inside. Broken glass glittered in the parking lot and a front door was shattered.

At nearby Von Maur, all exterior doors and windows were covered with plywood. No other stores in the Shoppes complex appeared damaged.

Police cars and traffic cones blocked entry to Parkway Plaza, 2103 N. Veterans Parkway.

At Axline, workers were cleaning up and replacing the front glass doors.

The front doors at the Bloomington Walmart were blocked with cases of bottled water. The doors to the garden center were blocked with bags of potting soil or charcoal.

Looters also broke into the Walmart, 300 Greenbriar Drive, Normal, and continued to run from the store and speed away even as police secured the parking lot. Police still were there, blocking all the entrances to the parking lot, at 4:15 a.m.

The overnight violence followed a peaceful rally and march Sunday afternoon to bring attention to racism and the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed his knee into Floyd's neck.

Protests turned violent across the country. On Sunday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called up the Illinois National Guard following intense riots in Chicago. 

Police fired tear gas and projectiles at demonstrators defying a Denver curfew Sunday night following a day of peaceful marching and chants of “Don’t shoot” alongside boarded-up businesses that were vandalized the night before.

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Police officers handle special weapons in their effort to secure Best Buy in Parkway Plaza early Monday, June 1, 2020, in Bloomington. More than a dozen cars were positioned in front of the Best Buy to prevent looting.

The entire Washington, D.C., National Guard — roughly 1,700 soldiers — was called in to help with the response to protests outside the White House and elsewhere in the nation’s capital, according to two Defense Department officials.

Nationally, Target, CVS, Apple and Walmart all said Sunday that they had temporarily closed or limited hours at some locations for safety reasons. In some places, their stores have been burned, broken into or looted as protests turned violent.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


Photos: Looters break into north Normal retailers


 Damage at Normal Target: Looters empty shelves, overturn merchandise

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