McCarthy: Hundreds of extra cops not enough to quell weekend of violence
By STEFANO ESPOSITO AND BRIAN SLODYSKO Staff Reporters July 6, 2014 10:41AM
Georgia Utendahl, left, and Shanice Smith, right, grieve after learning that their family member was shot by police on Saturday near 87th and Morgan. | Alex Wroblewski / Sun-Times
- MAP: Chicago Fourth of July Weekend Shootings Tracker
- Under the gun: Homicides down, shootings up in 2014
- WATCH: Fourth of July weekend violence hits Chicago hard
- CHART: July 4th weekend violence compared to past holiday weekends
Updated: July 7, 2014 2:15PM
Hundreds of extra officers were assigned Chicago streets this past weekend, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said, but by Monday morning, the totals were still depressing: 11 dead and at least 60 wounded in shootings across the city.
McCarthy said his department mostly had a grip on the violence during the holiday weekend, until Sunday, when there were 21 shooting incidents.
“Yesterday is the day that really blew it up for us,” McCarthy said, speaking to reporters in the Chicago Police Department’s 10th District. He said his department is still analyzing what might have caused the surge in violence.
Statistics may show Chicago’s homicide rate is down to levels not seen since the 1960s, but that may not comfort residents of the South and West sides, who saw the bulk of the shootings.
By 7 a.m. Monday, 11 people had been killed and at least 60 others wounded in holiday weekend shootings across the city since Thursday night. Two more were shot dead by police.
McCarthy said the weekend violence in the city was “unacceptable,” given the fact that he had a plan in place with “hundreds more officers” assigned to the streets.
“The results were a lot of shootings and a lot of murders,” McCarthy said.
The superintendent said he spoke to Mayor Rahm Emanuel Monday morning, who, he said, expressed “disappontment” at the level of violence.
McCarthy, standing beside a cache of recently seized guns and rifles, touched on one of his favorite themes — the lack of punishment in Illinois for people who illegally own guns.
“There’s a greater sanction from the gang members who lose that firearm from their gang than there is to go to jail for possession of that gun,” McCarthy said.
In places like West Englewood, South Shore and Austin, gunshots seemed almost as common as fireworks this past weekend.
“Englewood and South Shore had it lit up,” Andrew Holmes, an anti-violence activist who frequently goes to crime scenes and operates an anonymous crime tip hotline, said of the shootings Sunday night. “You had some people that were literally limping to the ambulance. They weren’t waiting.”
Holmes said occasions like the Fourth of July lead to shootings because people are out an about and have lowered inhibitions from drink or drugs – sometimes both.
“You have the gang-related shooting, then you have the shootings over drug money,” Holmes said. “Then you have people that may have too much alcohol, too much drugs [who] get into a fight. They’re taking it to an all time high and they grab a weapon.”
Nearly all of those killed were black or Hispanic men age 35 or younger. Two — Shaquille Ross, 18, and Kezon Lamb, 19 — were teenagers. One was a woman. And details of the most recent shooting victim was not yet available Monday morning.
The lastest of those fatal shootings happened early Monday when a man was shot several times in the South Chicago neighborhood.
The 24-year-old man was shot in the back, right arm, chest and eye in the 8400 block of South Buffalo Avenue about 2:20 a.m., police said. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:33 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
His name was not released early Monday pending notification of relatives. Police said the victim is a documented gang member.
Just a couple of hours before that, a woman was shot to death in a vacant parking lot early Monday in the Morgan Park neighborhood on the Far South Side.
The 44-year-old was leaning against a vehicle in the 10900 block of South Throop Street when shots were fired about 12:30 a.m., police said.
She was struck in the left arm and side and taken to Roseland Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m., authorities said. Her name was not released Monday morning.
Just four shootings occurred on the North Side. But in West Englewood alone, one man was killed and eight others were shot.
“I gotta get out of here. In Englewood it’s looking like everybody is gonna be dead,” said Patricia Donald, 17, a recent graduate of Englewood High School whose car was once caught in gang crossfire, and who is moving to Oklahoma to attend college in the Fall.
“It’s just kids shooting at each other,” she said, adding that while shooters may have gang ties, it’s often personal beefs that lead to gunfire.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new playground on the South Side Sunday afternoon, Mayor Rahm Emanuel declined to comment on the violence.
But police spokesman Martin Maloney said that so far this year Chicago has its lowest homicide rate since 1963, adding that “one victim is one too many.”
Maloney said police will continue “putting more officers on the street in summer months, proactively intervening in gang conflicts, partnering with community leaders, and . . . investing in prevention programs for at-risk youth.”
Statistics mean little to families who have been victimized by gun violence, said longtime West Englewood resident Carol Tyler, 63.
Last month, Tyler’s granddaughter Michelle Pearson, was shot while riding in a car with several young men in Bronzeville. Pearson still hasn’t regained consciousness, Tyler said. As far as she knows, no arrests have been made.
“When they get to hanging out with the wrong crowd, ain’t nothing you can do,” Tyler said. Police “said the boys who was with her knew who did it, but they wouldn’t’ tell.”
According to Yale sociologist Andrew Papachristos, the year-to-date crime statistics used by Chicago police to document the drop in violence can be misleading.
“You need to look at a much longer period of continuous time,” Papachristos said.
Last year Papachristos authored a study on crime in Chicago that looked at crime trends over a 48-year period. His conclusion: Chicago “experienced a significant decline in overall crime.”
Contributing: Michael Lansu, Sun-Times Media Wire