KEWANEE — Shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday, a plane circled overhead as area police agencies launched what could be the largest manhunt operation ever seen in Kewanee. Law enforcement officers from at least eight area agencies combed the city neighborhoods looking for a murder suspect involved in a shooting in Princeton. Media reports had stated that the suspects were headed to Kewanee.


"Since I’ve been chief, that's the biggest group I have even seen come together," said Kewanee Police Chief Troy Ainley. "Our people came together quickly to coordinate a search of that magnitude."


Per media reports, the suspects were wanted for a shooting at Hillview Trailer Park in Princeton Wednesday afternoon that left one person dead and another victim hospitalized.


The armed suspect, Davijon Robinson, and a juvenile suspect, were reported to be headed toward Kewanee in a dark-colored Nissan Altima. Ainley said the car was later found abandoned on the outskirts east of Kewanee. Law enforcement, he confirmed, were looking for two suspects on foot


Cindy and Ken VanWassenhove had been standing in front of their house on East 10th Street for hours watching the scene while police officers searched a yellow garage in their neighborhood. They weren’t alone, as residents lined the sidewalks to watch the manhunt unfold.


Cindy VanWassenhove said she had seen the news on social media about the Princeton murder, and like many of her neighbors had come outside to witness the activity. Officers dressed in full gear, walking police dogs patrolled the streets, she said.


On 8th Street and North Vine, law enforcement vehicles from Woodhull, the Bureau County Sheriff's Office, and the Princeton Police Department lined one side of the street. Within minutes, an officer in an unmarked car joined them.


At 7:22 pm, the Illinois State Police aircraft still circled over Kewanee’s north side while an officer from Bradford Police Department used binoculars to scan the corn field near Northeast Park. On foot, heavily armed officers patrolled the walking path through Northeast Park while another officer walked the rows of a cornfield north of the Case field ball diamond.


Several residents in the area of East 10th Street said they had been outside witnessing the activity since shortly after 5 p.m. One resident said it was her brother’s garage that had been searched by police officers, though her brother hadn’t been home all day, she said.


After 8 p.m., multiple law enforcement gathered in a block south of West Sixth and Rice streets. One local media outlet was reporting on social media that the suspect had been apprehended in that area, although after some time, the officers dispersed, with one officer confirming the suspect had not been located in that area.


Overhead, the search plane continued to circle, appearing to expand the search area from Northeast Park towards Baker Park and neighborhoods west of Route 81.


By 9 p.m., Ainley said the leads had run dry and several of the surrounding agencies returned to their own jurisdictions.


Ainley said the KPD are still operating under the idea that the suspects remain in Kewanee and will continue to follow up on all leads. Ainley said the suspects are considered to be armed and dangerous.