A man on the verge of starting a career as a registered nurse was killed early Sunday when an argument at a college party spilled into violence that left three other people wounded, authorities said.
George Korchev was shot and killed after an argument at an apartment near the University of Illinois carried into the street, authorities said. He was a bystander, police said.
Korchev, who lived in the Chicago suburb of Mundelein, was supposed to start work as a registered nurse on Monday at Advocate Condell Medical Center, according to a hospital statement.
“We lost someone whose life mission was to help others,” said Justin Konieczny, a friend and former high school classmate of Korchev’s.
Police in the college town of Champaign said the shooting started at 12:40 a.m., outside an apartment near the commercial heart of the University of Illinois campus. Four people were shot, none of whom were involved in the dispute, police said.
There were no immediate arrests, and police did not name a suspect.
“Our preliminary investigation completely points to an argument taking place at the party and the argument spilled out into the street and that’s when a fight occurred,” Champaign police spokeswoman LaEisha Meaderds said, adding the reasons for the fight weren’t yet clear.
Korchev was pronounced dead just after 1 a.m. at Carle Foundation Hospital, according to police and the Champaign County coroner.
The three wounded shooting victims were taken to hospitals with injuries described as non-life-threatening.
A person fleeing the shooting was hit by a car and suffered minor injuries.
At 1:08 a.m., about half an hour after the first gunfire, another shooting was reported nearby. One person was wounded and taken to a hospital. Police believe the two attacks may be related.
Korchev was born in Ukraine and moved to the U.S. when he was very young, said Joey Grant, who had been friends with Korchev since middle school. He had one sister.
“He was always looking out for everybody,” Grant said. “He was just a great person. He was just very happy and very bubbly. He was always talking to everybody.”
Korchev was visiting a friend from high school at the University of Illinois, Grant said. The friend also was shot but is recovering, he added.
Kathryn Lawlor, a teacher who graduated from the University of Illinois in May, caught some of the gunfire on a cellphone recording.
Lawlor said she had come to the university to celebrate her 23rd birthday. As she was heading to a bar with friends, she said, she walked past an empty lot where she saw between 100 and 200 people gathered.
“I whispered to my friend, ‘That looks like bad news to me; that doesn’t seem right,'” Lawlor said. Her friends dismissed her as overly cautious, she said.
Moments later she started the cellphone recording and gunshots are heard in quick succession.
“Some people thought it was fireworks, but I knew. I’ve shot guns before for recreation, so I know what gunshots sound like,” Lawlor said.