Alter Bridge Reaches Out to Survivor of College Shooting Near University of Illinois

Alter Bridge has produced a silver lining during a dark time in a fan’s life.

Erik Lasaine was hit by a stray bullet during the shooting that occurred Sept. 25 near the University of Illinois in Champaign. He and several friends happened to be passing by when a fight that had started in a nearby apartment spilled out into the street and shots were fired. Lasaine’s friend George Korchev and two other bystanders were also hit. However, Korchev, a recent graduate of College of Lake County who was due to start working as a registered nurse in Libertyville at Advocate Condell Medical Center, did not survive.

Lasaine, a U of I grad student, was shot in the back. Luckily, the bullet missed his spine. He has returned to his normal routine, but the bullet is still lodged in his body. “It’s riskier to take it out via surgery,” he explains, noting that the bullet will eventually work its way out.

Lasaine eulogized Korchev during a Sept. 27 on-campus memorial for the victims. He recited the chorus and the last stanza from the Alter Bridge song “Blackbird” as he spoke of his friendship with Korchev. Upon hearing about Lasaine using the lyrics at the event, an Alter Bridge representative notified the group. Deeply moved by how its song had resonated with Lasaine, the band offered to fly him to Dallas to see it perform Oct. 7 at House of Blues.

“It totally blew my mind,” says Lasaine of getting the offer. “I was surprised … It was definitely really cool.”

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Korchev’s girlfriend, Samantha Steinberg, accompanied Lasaine to Dallas as his guest. The pair got to chat with Alter Bridge during a VIP meet-and-greet at the show’s afternoon sound check and then spent more time with the band after the concert. Alter Bridge also dedicated “Blackbird” to Korchev’s memory during the Friday (Oct. 7) show.

Lasaine says Korchev was a hip-hop fan, but ironically, on the night of the shooting, he played “Blackbird” for Korchev to “pregame” before they headed out that evening. “George seemed to like it,” he recalls.

“George was really an awesome person,” says Steinberg. “Everybody knows that, and I’ve talked to his family, and they just want people to remember his legacy, which was just how great of a person he was.”

“Blackbird” is a song that Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy co-wrote in memory of a friend who had passed away. It has become a fan favorite in Alter Bridge’s catalog.