The Labor Day weekend murders come after police recorded 92 murders in August, the deadliest month for Chicago since June 1993. With murders up roughly 50% for the year, Chicago has tallied more homicides than the much larger cities of New York and Los Angeles combined.
The city is on pace to record well over 600 murders for 2016, a threshold it has not reached since 2003. Chicago regularly recorded more than 700 murders a year in the 1990s as gang violence, driven by the crack-cocaine epidemic, raged.
The most recent shooting took place on Monday night when someone driving a silver minivan opened fire on a group of teens and young men, leaving two 22-year-olds dead and a 16-, 17-, and 20-year-old seriously wounded. According to police, one of the men killed was a gang member.
Police chief Eddie Johnson blames the skyrocketing murder rate on gang activity and weak gun laws. “It’s important that we all wrap our heads around what’s going on here in Chicago,” Johnson told reporters Tuesday. “We need to enact tougher penalties, so these individuals know their actions will not go without consequences. Until then, you’re going to keep seeing the same results on the streets.”
The violence over Labor Day weekend clearly shows that something isn’t working right. Nine people were killed and 31 were shot just between 6 a.m. Monday and 3 a.m. Tuesday.
Johnson defended the city’s police force, explaining the violence as a “society issue” not a “police issue.”
“Impoverished neighborhoods, people without hope do these kinds of things,” he said. “You show me a man that doesn’t have hope, I’ll show you one that’s willing to pick up a gun and do anything with it.
“Those are the issues that’s driving this violence. CPD is doing its job,” he continued.
Johnson only alluded to a possible change in policing methods due to negative publicity surrounding high-profile shooting cases like that of Laquan McDonald.
“Of course, they’re human. They’re people,” Johnson said. “So of course, nobody wants to be the next viral video. These officers have families to take care of too.”
Other shooting victims include “a woman who is nine months pregnant and was wounded in the abdomen on the same block where someone had been killed less than 20 hours earlier. No information on the baby was available. A man she was standing near was left in critical condition in the same shooting around 3:30 p.m. in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.”
A retired pastor was shot and killed outside a senior housing complex in the South Shore neighborhood early Monday morning.
The Labor Day weekend was the deadliest of the three summer holiday weekends for Chicago.