Details released in WIU shooting case; suspect pleads not guilty

MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3) — A judge denied a request to reduce the $1 million bond for Kavion Poplous, 18, charged with non-fatally shooting Amarian Hargrove, his roommate at Western Illinois University.

Poplous, of Chicago, is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of aggravated battery and one count of aggravated discharge of a firearm in connection with the shooting on Sept. 15 just after 10:30 p.m. inside of his Thompson Hall dorm room at WIU.

Poplous plead not guilty to the charges in McDonough County Circuit Court Tuesday, during a preliminary hearing.

Poplous held his head down while walking into the courthouse, but once in the courtroom he shook his head in denial to the statements made by the WIU Office of Public Safety (OPS) and the McDonough County State’s Attorney’s Office.

OPS detective Matthew Haslam first took the stand to give his account after interviewing WIU freshman Hargrove, the shooting victim, Poplous and several other people said to be involved in the incident.

Haslam testified there was an issue between Poplous and Hargrove earlier in the day around 7 p.m. while Haslam said Poplous was in a Thompson Hall laundry room with two female students, Poplous had reportedly been in a romantic relationship with one of the students, according to Haslam.

About an hour later, police said Poplous, Hargrove and the two female students boarded a bus to Walmart, but stopped at WIU’s Browne Hall after the reported incident with Poplous. One of the two female students on the bus said Poplous got into an argument and she felt threatened and the group got off the bus.

Poplous was said to have followed the females off the bus and said, “Y’all are following into my trap,” according to Haslam.

During that time, police said Poplous put his finger on one of the female’s foreheads. One of the girls was able to press the nearest emergency alert system to signal an officer to the scene. Haslam said surveillance video confirmed the report made by the female students about what occurred on the bus.

Later that night around 10 p.m., resident assistant (RA), Josh Smith, spoke to Poplous and Hargrove about moving to separate dorm rooms due to a reported conflict, but they both declined. Shortly after, Hargrove told Smith he wanted to move rooms because he said threats were being made by Poplous.

Haslam said Poplous became aware of the conversation between Smith and Hargrove and started yelling, “Why did you do that?” At the time, Smith was in the dorm room and Poplous was on the phone with his mother, who told him, “Don’t do it. Kavion calm down,” according to Haslam. Police said Hargrove pushed Poplous and Poplous reportedly pulled out a 9mm pistol from his backpack and tried to shoot Hargrove, but the gun did not discharge. Poplous was then said to have cocked the gun and shot Hargrove in the leg, according to Haslam. Hargrove fell to the ground and was shot four more times in the abdomen. Poplous then slapped Hargrove with the gun, Smith told police.

Poplous left Thompson Hall and waited on the two female students outside of the building as students evacuated due to a fire alarm sounding. Police said Poplous said he wanted one of the females to give him a hug because he would be gone for a while.

Police said witnesses saw Poplous throw a gun into a wooded area outside of Thompson Hall and leave the scene. Haslam said Poplous did not have a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID). Police are still looking into the owner of the gun and gathering DNA information.

The judge said a bond reduction was denied due to a “unilateral escalation by Poplous.” McDonough County Assistant State’s Attorney Scott Terry argued, “The defendant was angry and acted on that anger.” Terry called the incident a “heinous crime that was inches away from a murder case.” Poplous’ attorney Venus Brown, of Chicago, argued back that Poplous was “battered first and didn’t start it.”

Poplous’ family was in the courtroom during Tuesday’s preliminary hearing. After the hearing, Poplous’ mother was emotional and accused Smith of lying about his side of the story to a NEWS3 reporter.

The McDonough County State’s Attorney’s Office said Hargrove has had two surgeries and now uses a walker or cane. The office reported that he had a fractured femur and 12 inches of his intestine had to be removed. Hargrove is expected to make a full recovery, according to WIU officials.

WIU said Poplous and Hargrove chose each other as roommates, but no other prior issues were known. Poplous could face 6-30 years in prison for attempted first-degree murder and up to 15 years for aggravated discharge of a firearm. A pre-trial is set for Jan. 5.