Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the outbreak of violence the city saw over the weekend is intolerable and his department is working to fix it.
Just since the Memorial Day holiday, the city has reported at least 110 shooting incidents with a collective death toll of 21. Over the weekend, 40 shootings and eight deaths were reported. And now, these grisly statistics have captured national attention.
Many in some neighborhoods feel that the onset of warm temperatures which often draw residents – especially children – out of the house and sometimes into crossfire, is the cause of the surge in violence.
On Memorial Day weekend, the family of Jayl-in Johnson was unfortunately traumatized by “crossfire.” Johnson, 18, was the cousin of Stanley Watkins, chief of staff for Cong. Bobby Rush, D-1st. Watkins told the Chicago Citizen that Johnson was a block away from his Roseland home leaving a friend’s house when shots rang out. Johnson was with three other friends and two of them were struck; Johnson in the head. The teen, who had just recently come home his first year at Miles College in Birgmingham, died two days later at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, according to his family.
The weekend after Memorial Day claimed the life a 6-year-old, and the father of infant girl was arrested after the baby was found holding a gun in her car seat. And this past weekend, the deaths include two people who were shot when someone opened fire at a party in the city’s Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood late Sunday. In addition, and a 16-year-old boy was shot outside his home Saturday.
McCarthy called the city’s violence issue a “day-by-day, minute-by-minute struggle.” He said that 75 to 80 percent of the shootings in Chicago are the result of gang violence and the availability of firearms is also an issue. The police chief added that Chicago’s gang problem goes back decades so it can’t be fixed overnight.
Monday the mayor joined Gov. Pat Quinn at the Thompson Center downtown where Quinn signed into law House Bill 1907. The bill targets gang leaders and is designed to help the city dismantle the dozens of street gangs and factions that are blamed for the majority of Chicago’s gun violence and murders.
“On behalf of the children, families and neighbors of Chicago and across Illinois, I commend the Governor for signing HB1907 into law today,” said Emanuel. “This law sends a clear message: the streets of Chicago belong to the law-abiding residents of Chicago.”
Further, McCarthy police chief blames the “proliferation of firearms” for much of the gun violence. He said guns are tied into the gang and drug infestation, which the city recently announced several initiatives to combat.
Later this month, the city will host a gun turn-in event “as part of its ongoing efforts to get guns off the streets of Chicago,” according to the mayor’s office. Since the turn-in event started six years ago the city has collected over 23,000 firearms.
On June 23, several churches around the city will open their doors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to allow people to turn in a firearm, without question, and receive a $100 gift card. Replica and BB guns will also be accepted and a $10 gift card given.
“Chicago traditionally seizes more firearms than any city in the country,” said McCarthy. He added that by March of this year the city had already recovered 400 more guns than the same time last year.
The Associated Press Contributed to this report
By Rhonda Gillespie