Over 40 were shot, and 11 died over the weekend in Chicago as the homicide counter crossed the 500 mark. While faring somewhat better than last year, Chicago struggles to shake off the grip of violence strangling many its neighborhoods.
The deadly weekend started around 8:40 p.m. on Friday when a person in a white SUV opened rifle fire on another vehicle, killing three men and a woman inside. The woman was believed to be pregnant.
The shooting happened in the Brighton Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
On Sunday night, Sept. 18, two neighbors of Southwest Side were shot in two separate incidents nine miles apart. It wasn’t clear whether the shootings were related or whether the victims knew each other.
Not every Chicago neighborhood suffers devastating violent crime. A number of them see little crime. But many on the West and South Side experience shootings on an almost daily basis.
As of Tuesday morning, 501 have been killed in Chicago this year, based on a Chicago Tribune tally. The department’s statistics don’t count justifiable homicides or those that happen on highways.
The department data shows a 7 percent decline in murders from last year, but it’s not nearly enough to counter last year’s surge of violence, unseen for decades. Close to 4,400 were shot and 784 killed in the city last year.
In the same trend as last year, Chicagoans still see more murders than New York City and Los Angeles combined—and by a growing margin. That’s because homicides are down 9 percent in LA his year and in NYC homicides have declined almost 24 percent, compared to the same period last year.
Gun violence in Chicago is usually blamed on gangs and drugs. It’s been so for decades.
“Years ago, we would see gang-related killings over gang colors and things like that. … But today it`s drugs, and who gets to sell drugs on what corner,” said Robert Dart, commander of the department’s gang crimes unit, Chicago Tribune reported in 1992, at the height of the crack epidemic.
But today’s violence seems to reflect the worst of both worlds. Ever more fragmented gang factions shoot each other both over drug turf wars and gang rivalries, feeding the infinite cycle of vendetta.
The city is in the process of hiring 1,000 more police officers. The department also tries to improve relations with the communities.
But police alone may not be able to make dramatic difference. Lack of jobs, prevalence of single parent homes, isolation—the list of underlying problems runs long.