Extra police officers on Chicago’s streets were not enough to quell a long weekend of violence that ended with 14 people shot dead and dozens more injured.
During a news conference yesterday, just hours after two more people were shot to death earlier in the day, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said his department’s best efforts could not prevent the bloodshed that spiked dramatically on Sunday.
Chicago’s total of 53 shooting incidents for the holiday weekend easily eclipsed Detroit and New York combined, which had a total of 46 shooting incidents, 10 of which were fatal.
“Going into the holiday weekend we had a plan, including putting hundreds more officers on the streets and what were the results?” Mr McCarthy asked.
“The results were a lot of shootings, a lot of murders, unfortunately.”
The shootings over the Fourth of July holiday weekend included eight incidents that involved police, according to Mr McCarthy.
In five of those instances, officers shot at suspects. Two people – both 16 - were killed in those shoot-outs. He said that based on preliminary investigations, all of the officer-involved shootings appear to have been justified, including one in which officers fired after a suspect tried to run them over with his car.
Mr McCarthy, who came to the third-largest US city from New York, used the opportunity to again highlight the number of guns that are on Chicago’s streets.
While Chicago has tough gun sales and possession ordinances, he maintains that Illinois needs stiffer penalties for people who violate gun laws.
He said his officers are seeing more suspects who are reluctant to throw down their guns when confronted by police because they are more concerned with harsh treatment from their gangs if they lose their weapons than the legal system if they are arrested with them.
“Possession of a loaded firearm is not even considered a violent felony in the state of Illinois for sentencing purposes,” Mr McCarthy said, noting that gangs, on the other hand, may severely beat a member who loses a gun.
The latest spate of shootings also indicates how dangerous the streets can be, particularly in the summer when the warm weather puts more people on the streets.
The police chief noted that nearly half of the 53 shooting incidents over the holiday weekend happened on Sunday, when temperatures climbed into the upper 80s Fahrenheit (low 30s Celsius).
Still, the superintendent stressed that even with the weekend deaths, Chicago has had fewer murders as of July 6 (185) than it did for the same period last year (196). At the same time, he said, the city has had 46 more shooting incidents than last year.