Shootings over the Memorial Day weekend left seven people dead and another 45 wounded in Chicago, a drop from last year, though almost half of this year’s victims were shot the last night of the weekend.
The violence this weekend was similar to three of the last five Memorial Day weekends: 53 gunshot victims in 2012, and 58 in 2015. A total of 34 people were shot in 2014, and 21 were shot in 2013.
Last year’s total was 71 and was the worst since at least 2012. It came during a year that saw almost 800 homicides and more than 4,000 people shot.
A police district that bore the brunt of the violence last year, Harrison on the West Side, reported no one shot this year.
The most violent day of the weekend this year was Memorial Day, with 24 people shot, five of them fatally, including a 20-year-old disabled man at a park he visited every day.
The day started with three domestic-related gun deaths: a suspected murder-suicide in the Dearborn Homes neighborhood and a domestic-related killing in the North Austin neighborhood.
The violence continued with four multiple-victim shootings on the South and West sides, including a shooting that left a 17-year-old boy dead and two others wounded in the West Englewood neighborhood.
The scene was at times chaotic. Officers formed a perimeter, found more shell casings, extended the size of the crime scene, then found more casings and extended it again.
The first officers to arrive found the 17-year-old boy dead behind an SUV on a stretch of Harvard that was under construction. He died there, on the gravel. Another man, 20, was writhing in pain on the sidewalk, bleeding from abdomen wounds through his T-shirt. Paramedics took him to Stroger Hospital.
A 17-year-old boy was found a few blocks away with a shoulder wound and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
Officers found shell casings in a driveway next to a house toward the north end of the block, near 69th Street, about four doors down from where the 17-year-old fell after being shot.
“They shot from here,” an officer said, draping crime scene tape from a fence to a car before the first ambulance arrived. Ten minutes later, about four doors down, officers found more shell casings. And a few minutes later, in the street, officers found a few more.
At least one person south of where the victims were found returned fire, police said. A neighbor said he heard the sound of three weapons from his second-floor apartment window.
Relatives of the boy who died arrived and tried to see his body, but police pushed them back. Some officers tried to talk grieving families to calm them down. Others said they would lock up anyone who kept touching the crime scene tape. This upset people who were mourning.
As officers formed a line to push people back, they came upon a parked car with two boys in the back seat. An officer knocked on the window, waited a couple seconds, then opened the door, reached in and pulled the boy out. He appeared in his early teens. The car was inside the perimeter police were trying to establish. This angered the boy’s mother.
Officers then clustered in groups and stood in circles. When a family member tried to run into the scene, they were able to run a dozen or so paces before officers caught up and swarmed them.
Each time this happened, the line of tape was abandoned, so neighbors were able to quietly duck into the crime scene and walk along an unlit sidewalk to get to their homes.
There were many police officers near the scene’s perimeter, but few supervisors.
The neighbor who described the different weapons said one of the boys who was shooting stood among the onlookers and grieving young men. No one told officers, though.
Another triple shooting occurred around the same time in the South Austin neighborhood to the northwest. Officers placed evidence markers around a vehicle that had been damaged by the gunfire in the 5500 block of West Lake Street. A woman, pushing a stroller, walked past the crime scene and through police tape.
A woman, who did not want to be identified but is nicknamed the “Sheet Lady,” was visiting friends near where the shooting took place. She huddled at the edge of the crime scene on Lake and voiced her frustration with gun violence. She said she was wounded in a shooting about two years ago in Maywood.
“We out here helpless,” she said.
Before Monday, only 28 people had been shot over the previous three nights, a low total for any weekend in Chicago.
This year, 1,300 extra officers were deployed during the weekend on top of normal staffing levels, according to police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Last year, there were about 880 extra officers working, he said.
The officers worked in areas where much of the city violence occurs. The Chicago Police Department parked a mobile command center on one of the city’s most widely known open-air heroin markets, at Roosevelt Road and Independence Boulevard, for the first two nights of the weekend.
The RV-size command van moved to an area near 63rd Street and King Drive after the second night. Nineteen of the 28 people shot the first three nights were wounded on the South Side, while the West Side saw just five shootings with a total of eight victims the first three nights.
One person over that period was wounded in a Northwest Side shooting, at Addison Street and Keeler Avenue.
The Cook County sheriff’s office parked its mobile command center on a block widely known as one of the city’s busiest marijuana spots — Madison Street and Leamington Avenue — where there have been close to a dozen shootings over the last 18 months.
It was common to see officers three or four to a car, or officers riding around in rented vans. Evidence techs also were moved into rental cars before the weekend. Many officers’ days off were canceled and hours extended.
As the weekend drew to a close Tuesday morning, someone in a passing car fired toward a group standing outside Mount Sinai Hospital, police said.
An evidence tech at the hospital alerted his dispatcher that a car was shooting as nearby officers called out the sound of gunfire near the hospital.
Six of the 24 people shot between Monday and Tuesday mornings had been taken to the West Side trauma center for treatment. No one had been taken into custody for those shootings.
Outside the hospital a few minutes after the shooting, officers surrounded a group of people who were arguing. Shortly afterward, two cars filled with people left the hospital while others walked toward Douglas Park.
Police at the scene said no one was hit by the gunfire.
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