At least 52 people were shot and 10 killed in Chicago’s most violent weekend so far this year, leading police Superintendent Eddie Johnson on Monday to declare the uptick a “despicable level of violence.”
At a news conference, Johnson described how police were within blocks of some of the shootings — one commander in the Austin neighborhood was only a half-block away — and how “emboldened some of these individuals are” who opened fire.
Police attributed the majority of the gun violence to gangs, and Johnson ordered targeted patrols in areas where retaliation is likely to occur, including the West Side and the South Side districts.
In total, 92 firearms were seized since Friday, he added, “nearly double the amount of guns that we take in during a particular weekend.”
At least 19 arrests were made on gun-related charges. As of Monday morning, police did not make arrests in connection with the homicides, which included two domestic-related stabbings, although Johnson said there was “very good reason to believe” arrests were forthcoming.
Much of the violence unfolded in the first 12 hours of the weekend, and carried into early Monday, police said.
Four men were shot near Northwestern University’s campus on the Near North Side in two separate incidents Saturday. In the first shooting, two of the victims heard shots and saw several cars fleeing the scene when they were hit. In the other, two men were shot while driving, and flagged down an ambulance for help.
In another incident Saturday night, four people in the South Austin neighborhood were hit by gunfire from across the street. Three of the victims were teenagers and one of them was in critical condition.
Many of the shootings occurred on streets as people were standing on corners or sitting in front of their homes or driving when an assailant suddenly opened fire.
The bloody weekend eclipses the Memorial Day holiday weekend, when at least 33 people were wounded and seven killed, NBC Chicago reported.
Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, has grappled with attempts to curb gun violence, but has seen some improvements from 2018 and past years.
In the first five months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, shootings fell by 13 percent, the number of shooting victims fell by 10 percent, and homicides fell by 7 percent, according to police crime statistics.
Police officials have generally credited the addition of more than 1,000 new officers to the streets in recent years, as well as the use of gunshot-detection technology and predictive analytics for helping to stave off such crime.
But with the summer approaching, Johnson said he’s worried that the “proliferation of guns on the streets of Chicago” could lead to more violence and he was adamant that gun offenders must be held accountable.
“We keep arresting them over and over and over again,” he added. “It’s a vicious cycle.”
The office of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who was elected in April, did not have an immediate comment following Johnson’s news conference.
Johnson said community members are cooperating with police, and they’re crucial to helping gain intel over criminals.
“Everybody has to pitch in to stem the tide of violence in this city,” he said.
Dr. Tamara O’Neal, 38, was shot dead by her former fiancee, 32-year-old Juan Lopez, outside of Mercy Hospital on Nov. 19, 2018.
(Photo: Franciscan Health)
Dayna Less, 25, a first-year pharmacy resident, was struck by a bullet as she walked out of an elevator inside of the hospital.
Samuel Jimenez, a Chicago police officer on the force less than two years, was gunned down as he went to the aid of other officers during the shooting.
(Photo: Chicago Police Department)