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McCarthy: Hundreds of extra cops not enough to quell weekend of violence

 
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Updated: August 9, 2014 6:13AM



Hundreds of extra officers were assigned to Chicago streets this past weekend, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said, but by Monday morning, the totals were still depressing: 13 dead and at least 58 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 Monday 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 that 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, 12 people had been killed and at least 59 others wounded in shootings across the city since Thursday night. One person who was injured died Monday afternoon. Two more were fatally shot by police: Pedro Rios, 14, of Rogers Park, on Friday night in the Portage Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side, and Warren Robinson, 16, on Saturday night in the Gresham neighborhood. Police said both boys had pointed weapons at officers.

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.

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.

He repeated his frustration that many of the people who threaten his cops with firearms have been previously convicted of gun crimes. He frequently points out that people arrested for gun crimes are often released on bond. And if they’re convicted, they don’t serve serious prison time, he says.

For instance, one man who shot at police Sunday night in the 10200 block of South Morgan was arrested earlier this year for firing a gun, McCarthy said. “How this individual is out on bond is beyond me,” he said.

Also over the weekend on the South Side, police shot and wounded two other men previously convicted of weapons charges, McCarthy said. One of the men pointed a gun at officers Friday and the other man fired his weapon at the police Saturday, he said.

In places such as Englewood, South Shore and Austin, gunshots seemed almost as common as fireworks over the weekend.

Nearly all of those killed over the weekend were black or Hispanic men age 35 or younger. One was a woman.

Meanwhile, just four shootings occurred on the North Side, including one in which police shot the 14-year-old boy.

“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 and about and have lowered inhibitions from alcohol or drugs — sometimes both.

“You have the gang-related shootings, 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.”

Holmes said anyone who wants to provide an anonymous tip that will be shared with police can call (800) UTELLUS.

Surprisingly, most of the shootings in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side didn’t involve gang conflicts. Instead, “a lot of this was random incidents and nuts shooting their guns for the Fourth of July,” a police source said.

Of the 11 shootings in the Englewood police district, only two were thought to be gang-related, involving an ongoing conflict between factions of the Gangster Disciples, the source said.

A bar fight prompted one of the shooting incidents. And a woman was shot in the leg on the Fourth of July because people near her were firing their guns in celebration.

“How do you stop people from being stupid?” the source said.

The last time the Fourth of July fell on a Friday was in 2008, when seven people were shot to death across the city over the weekend starting at 6 p.m. Thursday and ending at 6 a.m. Monday, according to Cook County medical examiner’s records. One of the victims, 19-year-old Courtney Thomas, was killed in the Loop after the fireworks at the Taste of Chicago, prompting extra security for the event in future years. Police also fatally shot a man that weekend after he fired at officers, according to the department.

The latest fatal shooting happened early Monday, when Joey Henderson, 24, was shot several times in the South Chicago neighborhood. He was shot in the back, right arm, chest and eye less than a block from his home in the 8400 block of South Buffalo Avenue about 2:20 a.m., authorities 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.

Just a couple of hours before that, Tonya Gunn, 44, was shot to death in a vacant parking lot early Monday in the Morgan Park neighborhood on the Far South Side.

She 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.

On Monday evening, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on the entire city of Chicago to feel the anguish of the weekend’s gun violence.

“No gang member with a gun is more powerful than a community with a purpose and a shared sense of values,” Emanuel said at a new conference held on a basketball court in the Roseland community that offers at-risk youths a safe activity.

“Roseland, when something, God forbid happens here, Ravenswood, where I live, has to feel that sense of anguish,” he said.

Asked why police, even with extra patrols, couldn’t tamp down the violence, Emanuel said: “It’s a fair question, where were the police? What were they doing? I would also say, where are the gun laws?”

Emanuel said McCarthy “is going to analyze all that, but I want you to know that’s not the only question.”

Emanuel’s message was identical to the one he conveyed in front of a national news audience in April, when he spoke at St. Sabina Church in Englewood after eight people were shot and killed over one weekend.

Earlier Monday in Englewood, during an event celebrating a summer educational program at Miles Davis Magnet School, he said: “It’s totally unacceptable gun violence,” he said. “That is not our city.”

He called for “better policing, better prevention” as well as better parenting and tougher gun laws.

“Our streets, our neighborhoods and our communities belong to the people of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

On Sunday, churchgoers outside Bread of Life Missionary Baptist Church in Englewood had said Emanuel could benefit from spending a little more time in the neighborhood.

Footsteps from the church, Shaquille Ross, 18, was gunned down outside Luke O’Toole Elementary School on Saturday afternoon.

Duvall London, who works security at the church, said police have stepped up with bike patrols that have had some impact. But once police leave, trouble comes right back out on the street, he said.

Churchgoer Roy Swan, who also lives in the neighborhood, said Emanuel breezes through when he visits.

“I would tell him to just hang out a little while,” said Swan, 57. “Don’t just ride through. Stay and observe and stick around a little longer.”

Contributing: Michael Lansu, Sun-Times Media Wire



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