Gun violence in Chicago this weekend left at least six people dead and more than 40 injured in the deadliest weekend of what had been a record-setting year for a decrease in homicides citywide.
Authorities say the first homicide of the weekend happened late Friday on the city's West Side. The tally, which included at least 41 injuries, spanned Friday night through Sunday night.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that it was the most violent weekend of the year in the city.
The youngest victim was 15-year-old Michael Westley, who died Sunday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. Michael was shot by a Chicago police officer in the South Side’s Englewood neighborhood at about 10:50 p.m. Sunday, according to the Chicago Tribune
Pat Camden, a union spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, said in the Michael Westley case that officers assigned to a gang crimes unit responded after hearing gunfire in the area. Police pursued three people they saw running away and during the chase, one runner pointed a gun at the officers, according to a preliminary statement from the Chicago Police Department’s Office of News Affairs. One of the pursuing officers then fired on the alleged gunman, the statement said. Michael was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Chicago was beset last year by a headline-grabbing spike in homicides and gun violence, which local officials blame on lax gun laws in jurisdictions outside of city borders. Crime experts, for their part, credited an explosive mix of feuding street gangs, drug-related violence, concentrated poverty, and inadequate opportunity for youths in poor neighborhoods, as well as cuts in the size of the police force. The 2012 jump to more than 500 homicides citywide prompted, in January, a reallocation of foot-patrol officers to 10 areas where crime is most rampant and other intervention tactics intended to drive down the high rate of street violence.
According to the Chicago Tribune, one of the other fatalities over the weekend was a result of a police-involved shooting. Other fatalities occurred after unidentified individuals opened fire in neighborhoods in the South and Northwest sides of the city. No arrests have been reported.
Chicago Police officials told the Chicago Sun-Times that more shootings took place during the same weekend last year than this year, and that there have been fewer murders in the city so far in 2013 than any year since the mid-1960s.
Last year at about the same time, 53 people were shot, nine fatally in one weekend, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Chicago residents told local papers of continued fear in their communities: “I had a family from my parish tell me recently that their 10-year-old son didn’t want to come back to Chicago from vacation because of the violence,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church in the Englewood neighborhood, which is about a mile from the site of one of the shootings, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Chicago police spokesman Adam Collins told the Chicago Tribune that the city’s crime-fighting strategies are working, despite the bloody weekend.
“There’s going to be good days, and there’s going to be bad days, which is why we’ve been calling this progress, not victory,” said Mr. Collins, who pointed out drops in overall crime.
– Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.