Dozens of people were struck by gunfire in Chicago, some of them fatally, during the traditionally violent Fourth of July weekend, mostly in parts of the South and West sides that have long been plagued by gang crime and gun violence.
From Friday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon, about 60 people were shot with eight of them killed, according to data kept by the Tribune.
The toll comes as the Chicago Police Department added roughly 1,300 police officers to work each day since Friday to patrol the violent neighborhoods, the parks, the CTA transit system and the lakefront, where large crowds formed to celebrate the holiday and watch fireworks.
This year’s shooting toll was similar to recent Fourth of July weekends, though direct comparisons are difficult because the holiday fell on a Tuesday this year. The shootings this year occurred in communities long beset by violence such as Roseland, Greater Grand Crossing and Back of the Yards on the South Side and East Garfield Park, Austin and North Lawndale on the West Side.
Shootings still persisted in two of the city’s traditionally most violent police districts, Englewood and Harrison. This is despite a new crime-fighting initiative in those districts that includes technology designed to better detect where gunshots are coming from and enable officers to respond more quickly to gunfire.
While Harrison had no shootings during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, at least eight people were shot and wounded in the district this weekend, according to the Tribune’s data. In Englewood, three men were fatally shot Friday night in the 5700 block of South Wells Street.
Elsewhere in the city, this weekend’s toll included a Cook County judge’s son, shot and wounded Friday night after attending the funeral for a friend who was fatally shot last month.
Other shootings included a 60-year-old man wounded Monday night near 15th Street and Hamlin Avenue in Lawndale and two men wounded by rifle rounds in Back of the Yards near 43rd Street and Ashland Avenue — the same area where two Chicago police officers were wounded by rifle fire in early May.
On Saturday night, police fatally shot a man in the North Lawndale community near Cermak Road and Kostner Avenue, one of at least eight people who were killed by gunfire over the long weekend. Officers at the crime scene confiscated an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun, police officials said.
In addition to the gun violence, Chicago police on Tuesday announced the arrests of 58 people across the city on gun and drug charges.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said several guns were seized as well as 1,200 grams of cannabis and 500 grams of heroin and crack cocaine.
“CPD officers are working on the streets in force to keep residents and visitors safe in every neighborhood,” he said.
The city just finished its first half of 2017 with 323 homicides — one more than the same period in 2016 — putting Chicago on pace to reach the 700-homicide mark for the second consecutive year, official Police Department statistics show.
Through June, the city recorded 11 percent fewer people shot overall than the year-earlier period. But the number of people shot in Chicago so far this year still far exceeds figures for the first halves of 2013, 2014 and 2015.
During a news conference Friday to discuss the department’s Fourth of July weekend deployment plans, as well as its new task force with federal law enforcement, Chicago police officials still expressed optimism over the reduction in the number of shooting victims.
“The important thing to me is at this point we’ve had 230 (fewer) people shot this year,” First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro said Friday. “I think that’s a start, definitely. But every time we have one less person shot, that’s a win for us.”
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune – Peter Nickeas, Elvia Malagon, Elyssa Cherney, Ariana Figueroa, and Jeremy Gorner