WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Guilty Plea in WIU On-Campus Shooting

Jun 1, 2021

Kavion Poplous, 19, entered the plea Tuesday morning at the McDonough County Courthouse.  His sentencing hearing will be held in early September, nearly one year after he shot his roommate five times.

“The defendant, I think, is taking responsibility for his actions that night and so I think this was the fair and just decision to do and that’s my job – to do what is fair and just,” said McDonough County State’s Attorney Matt Kwacala.

“(The plea) is a win to the public. It’s a good thing for the city, the county, and the university to move on from this. It’s best to bring this matter to a resolution as quickly and judiciously as possible.”

Poplous pleaded guilty to Attempted First Degree Murder. He will learn his punishment after a September 3 sentencing hearing before Circuit Judge William Poncin.

A pre-sentencing investigation will be conducted between now and then.

“(The pre-sentencing investigation) is basically a complete snapshot of the defendant’s social history, family history, any substance abuse history, criminal history – a complete snapshot of the defendant’s life,” Kwacala said, calling it a tool to help the court know the defendant better. He said the information will not be made public.

Poplous faces a minimum of six years in prison and a maximum of 30 years. Kwacala said he will be pushing for a term closer to the latter than the former, though he will no longer ask for an extended sentence.

Poplous will be required to serve at least 85% of the sentence. He could also be fined up to $25,000.

The Shooting

Police were called to Thompson Hall shortly after 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, on a report of shooting. At the same time a fire alarm was pulled and the 19-story residence hall was evacuated.

Prosecutors said Poplous shot his roommate, Amarion Hargrove, five times. Hargrove required surgery for life-threatening injuries. The WIU Office of Public Safety called the shooting “a roommate dispute” and an isolated incident.

Poplous escaped from the scene. He turned himself in to police and the FBI in Chicago the next day. He was originally charged with Attempted First Degree Murder, Aggravated Battery, and Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm.

WIU canceled its classes for the next day.

Poplous remains at the McDonough County Jail on $1 million bond.

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