CHICAGOLAND LOGS 500TH HOMICIDE…
After another violent holiday weekend, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Tuesday his department is doing all it can to combat violence rooted in “impoverished neighborhoods” where “people without hope do these kinds of things.”
“It’s not a police issue, it’s a society issue,” Johnson told reporters outside police headquarters after a long weekend that saw 65 people shot, 13 of them fatally.
“Impoverished neighborhoods, people without hope do these kinds of things,” he said. “You show me a man that doesn’t have hope, I’ll show you one that’s willing to pick up a gun and do anything with it.
“Those are the issues that’s driving this violence. CPD is doing its job,” he continued.
Johnson pointed to increases in gun arrests this year over last year — and more than 6,000 illegal gun recoveries so far in 2016 — as evidence that officers are out on the streets working.
But he acknowledged that the fallout from last year’s release of the Laquan McDonald video, and the amplified distrust between the police and African-American community, doesn’t make it easy for his officers.
“Of course, they’re human. They’re people,” Johnson said. “So of course, nobody wants to be the next viral video. These officers have families to take care of too.”
The weekend had begun relatively quietly. But the violence spiked on the last day, with 31 shot between 6 a.m. Monday and 3 a.m. Tuesday. Nine of the fatal shootings occurred over that period.
Among those shot was Crystal Myer, who was nine months pregnant and was wounded in the abdomen on the same block where someone had been killed less than 20 hours earlier. No information on the baby was available. A man she was standing near was left in critical condition in the same shooting around 3:30 p.m. in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
Farther south, a retired pastor from Gary was shot to death outside a senior housing complex in the South Shore neighborhood around 6:30 a.m. Monday.
Police say the man was found dead, shot in the face outside the Senior Suites of Rainbow Beach near 77th and Exchange around 6:30 a.m. Monday. Residents identified the man as Allen H. Smith and said they heard him arguing with another man before shots were fired.
Police said they took into custody another resident of the home. No charges had been filed.
The Labor Day weekend was the deadliest of the three holiday weekends this summer. The Memorial Day weekend saw 69 shot, six of them fatally, and the Fourth of July weekend recorded 66 shot, five of them fatal.
Early Monday morning, it appeared Chicago had a chance of ending a holiday weekend with fewer than four dozen people shot, which would have made it one of the least violent weekends of the summer.
The uptick in shootings in this weekend’s final hours mirrored the end of the Fourth of July. Gunfire in the final hours of that holiday made up half the entire weekend’s bloodshed.
Police attributed the 11th-hour surge to retaliatory acts, often involving gangs, after a weekend of parties and tense encounters.
Homicides in Chicago this year have risen to levels not seen since the 1990s, when killings peaked at more than 900 annually. The 90 homicides in August tied for the most the city had seen in a single month since June 1996. In the worst previous month — July 1993 — 99 people were slain.
After this past weekend’s violence, homicides now stand at 512 for the year, according to data collected and analyzed by the Tribune. There were 491 homicides all of last year. More than 2,930 people have been shot this year.
Tribune data is usually higher than comparable numbers provided by the Chicago Police Department because the department excludes killings on area expressways and those that are considered justifiable homicides.
Through 5 a.m. Tuesday, the police department recorded 488 homicides, marking a 47 percent increase from 331 in the same year-earlier period and exceeding the 481 for the entire 2015, according to official department statistics.
Homicides and shootings in Chicago continue to far outpace both New York and Los Angeles, both bigger cities. According to official statistics through late August, the most recent publicly available, New York and Los Angeles had a combined 409 homicides, well below Chicago’s total.