Wed, 17 Oct 2018

Bloody weekend in Chicago leaves 12 dead, 70 injured

By Sheetal Sukhija, Chicago News
07 Aug 2018, 12:14 GMT+10

ILLINOIS, U.S. - One of the year’s bloodiest weekends in Chicago ended with 12 people being shot to death, while 70 others suffered injuries. 

Police in America’s third-largest city, that has often been blamed for the runaway violence, has attributed the string of gun violence incidents that took place over the weekend, on criminal gangs that shot into large crowds. 

Chicago witnessed its deadliest year in 2016, when the homicide rate was said to have reached its highest in two decades.

According to the Chicago Police Department, the homicide tally in Chicago in 2016 was more than New York and Los Angeles combined and the increase in homicides was the largest spike witnessed in 60 years.

The city saw 762 homicides that year - averaging more than two killings a day and a total of 3,550 shooting incidents were recorded in 2016, which left 4,331 shooting victims.

The following year, in 2017, Chicago saw a 16 percent decline in murders from the previous year - recording 650 murders, 2,785 shooting incidents and 3,457 shooting victims.

So far this year, reports claim that there have been 300 homicides in Chicago.

Addressing a press conference held at the Gresham District station on the South Side on Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson responded with anger as they revealed details of how one of Chicago’s bloodiest weekends of the year unfolded.

Emanuel, who is seeking re-election to a third term, said, “All of us know that this is not Chicago, what we saw. We are better than what we saw.”

He told reporters, "Don't think for a moment people don't know in the neighbourhood who was responsible. If you say to yourself 'enough is enough,' will that implore you to then do something, so this doesn't happen again?"

He added, “The offender in almost every situation … is known by somebody. They have a moral responsibility to speak up, so there could be legal accountability for those actions."

Meanwhile, the police Superintendent Eddie Johnson expressed frustration at the blame laid on Chicago police for the violence when “it’s those pulling the triggers who need to be held accountable.”

He said, “It’s the same individuals who continually commit these crimes.”

Further, Johnson said, “What we saw this weekend, it just rips at everything that I believe in because I know as a city and as a neighborhood… we can do better.” 

He added that the weekend violence mostly occurred in four patrol districts covering parts of the South and West sides. 

While Johnson couldn't point out definitively what caused the rise in violence this past weekend, he denied that the Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park put a drain on police resources for the rest of the city.

Further, answering questions by reporters, Johnson acknowledged that some of the weekend’s mass shootings — at least 40 people were shot citywide, four fatally, in less than seven hours early Sunday — took place during large gatherings on certain blocks.

Johnson said, “You should be able to gather on your block and have a block club party (without) the fear of being gunned down. And it's the same individuals that continuously commit these crimes. Where's the accountability for them?"

Commenting on how the Police Department shouldn’t bear the brunt of criticism for the rampant violence, Johnson said, “It’s very rare we actually witness this stuff. Somebody knows who did it. They do. They know that.”

He added, “I hear people holding us accountable all the time. I never hear people say these individuals out there on the streets need to stop pulling the trigger. …They get a pass from everybody, and they shouldn’t.”

Answering a question by a reporter, Johnson confirmed that no arrests had yet been made in any of the dozens of shootings over the weekend.

He, however, pointed out that detectives have promising leads on a number of them.

Meanwhile, Fred Waller, Chicago police chief of patrol said that the weekend’s violence was due to gang members who shot into large crowds, including a block party and a funeral.

Waller reportedly said, “They take advantage of that opportunity and they shoot into a crowd, no matter who they hit.”

According to police figures,  the largest shooting took place in the South Side's Gresham neighbourhood where eight people, including a 14-year-old girl, were shot while standing in a crowd in a courtyard just before 12:40 a.m.

Waller said that the crowd had gathered after attending a funeral reception.

However, overall, the highest number of cases of violence emerged from the West Side, where 25 people were shot in separate attacks between midnight and 6:50 a.m.

An annual block party in the West Side's Lawndale neighbourhood was also victimized by a shooting at 16th Street and Avers Avenue.

According to the police, a 13-year-old boy was shot twice in the right arm.

Further, reports noted that a car drove up to the gathering and two people got out and opened fire into the crowd.

Two more teenagers and a 25-year-old man were injured. 

Waller also pointed out that many of the shootings appeared to be targeted attacks.

He further pointed out that police were sticking with their strategy of targeting illegal guns and said that over 5,500 illegal guns have been confiscated on the street this year. 

Officials revealed that police are planning coordinated enforcement that will target gangs and individuals believed to be driving violence.

Adding that the police are also seeking to thwart retaliatory attacks.

Waller noted, "I promise this city, we won't be defeated. We won't be overrun by that small element that's committing these reckless acts."

The police department has now called on neighbours to come forward to help police stem the increasing violence.

Meanwhile, the U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, used the weekend violence to criticize the city’s longtime Democratic leadership in a series of tweets on Sunday and Monday. 

Falsely claiming that Chicago had “63 murders this weekend,” Giuliani misspelt Emanuel’s last name and tweeted, “He can do a lot better than Mayor Emmanuel who is fiddling while Chicago burns.”

The former New York City mayor also tweeted his support for Chicago’s former superintendent, Garry McCarthy, referring to him as “Jerry” and calling him a “policing genius.” 

McCarthy has announced that he plans to run for mayor next February against Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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