At least 34 people were shot, including nine fatally, in separate incidents across Chicago over the weekend, according to police.
Among those killed was a 9-year-old boy, Janari Ricks, who was playing outside when gunfire erupted, police said.
“It’s just crazy. My boy, he’s gone; that was my inspiration, that was my truth,” Janari’s father, Raymond Ricks, said, according to ABC7. “He wanted to play basketball. He was just a basketball fanatic.”
Chicago Police Department Chief of Operations Brian McDermott described the boy as “an unintended target, and we don’t know who the intended target was.” He was gunned down when a suspect walked up to a crowd of people on 900 North Cambridge Avenue, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
A 17-year-old boy, Caleb Reed, was also shot and killed over the weekend in a separate shooting, officials said. Officers discovered him lying on the sidewalk at around 1 p.m. on July 31. He was pronounced dead on Aug. 2 at St. Francis Hospital, the ABC affiliate reported.
A report from the police department found that July saw a 139 percent increase in murders compared to July 2019, ABC7 reported.
“We care. We want the city to know that we are here, as a motorcycle community we are tired of watching kids die,” community activist Dawn Valenti told the news outlet.
George Bady, the head of Stop The Violence, said children are scared.
“They are very scared; they are scared to come outside, they are scared to sit in their front rooms now, some scared to go outside because they might not make it back home,” Bady said.
President Donald Trump in July announced that federal agents would be sent to Chicago and other cities as part of Operation Legend, which will seek to curb the increase in crime in cities. Following the George Floyd-related protests in May and June, a number of metropolitan areas have seen spikes in crime and shootings as animus toward police officers and departments has grown.
The latest report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) states that most of the guns recovered in Illinois in 2018 were from Illinois. The numbers show that 5,337 guns recovered in Illinois were traced and sourced as coming from the state itself.
It came as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told CNN in late July that guns are being sourced out-of-state, in an apparent contradiction to the ATF report.
“Our gun problem is related to the fact that we have too many illegal guns on our streets, 60 percent of which come from states outside of Illinois,” she said.