At least 42 people were shot, five fatally, throughout Chicago on Memorial Day weekend as severe storms kept people indoors for the holiday and 1,200 officers were added to patrol the streets.
Several of the victims were shot within five hours on Sunday at a Near West Side housing community, police said.
One person died and two others were injured at the ABLA Homes around 1:30 a.m., but it wouldn’t be the last time that morning officers would respond to gunfire in the 1300 block of West Hastings Street. Around 6 a.m., five more people were shot on the same block, and this time two of them died of their wounds.
On Monday night, felony charges were announced against two men in the second shooting. Tevin Covens, 25, was charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm and Lawrence Wilkins, 29, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon after police found him carrying a gun at the scene, authorities said.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Covens will not be charged with murder after he shot and killed one of the two men at the scene in self-defense.
According to police, Covens was shot in the face at the scene by 28-year-old Antonio Green, who also shot and killed another man, 27-year-old Martez Cox, after Cox fired a TEC-9 machine pistol into the air.
Covens, also armed, opened fire on Green, killing him in self-defense, Guglielmi said. But he said Covens also unintentionally fired shots that wounded two female victims at the scene. Guglielmi said Covens was only charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm and not aggravated battery with a firearm, which is a more serious crime, because the female victims did not want to press charges.
While many Chicagoans celebrated the holiday weekend with barbecues, family get-togethers and other special events, the extended weekend is typically one of the busiest of the year for the Chicago Police Department, where many officers had their days off canceled.
In addition to extra patrols, Chicago police leading up to the weekend made numerous narcotic-related arrests in targeted raids in different parts of the city.
Following a Monday ceremony at a Grant Park monument to commemorate the nation’s war dead, Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters that she rode with officers Saturday night and responded with them to a shooting on the South Side. She also spoke of the frequency in which she receives emailed notifications on shootings.
“That is just an unacceptable state of affairs,” the new mayor said. “I think there’s many causes to it. I certainly knew that before but to see it graphically depicted is quite shocking and says that we’ve got a long way to go as a city.
“This is not a law enforcement-only challenge. It’s a challenge for all of us in city government. It’s a challenge for us in communities to dig down deeper and ask ourselves what we can do to step up to stem the violence.”
Since 3 p.m. Friday, the shootings stretched as far south as Roseland and as far north as West Rogers Park. But much of the violence was concentrated in parts of the South and West sides that have long struggled with poverty, gang activity, illegal drug sales and other social ills.
On Saturday, 13 people were shot, with two dead: 43-year-old Tito Wade, who was shot in the 400 block of West 77th Street in the South Side’s Greater Grand Crossing community, and 31-year-old Michael Brown, shot in the 100 block of West 109th Place in the Roseland community on the Far South Side.
Sunday saw the largest spate of violence with 18 people shot. Eight of those victims were from the two shootings on Hastings Street. The first shooting there about 1:30 a.m. claimed the life of John Benford, 27, before two more people — Green and Cox — were killed in the later shooting.
During last year’s Memorial Day weekend, 39 people were shot, seven fatally, according to shooting data kept by the Tribune. In 2017, 45 people were shot, seven of them killed, the data show. And 2016 was one of the most violent Memorial Day weekends in years with 71 people shot, six of them fatally.
In other weekend mayhem, a man exchanged gunfire with police Saturday night in the 1100 block of South Whipple Street, just north of Douglas Park on the West Side, authorities said. The man was reported in critical condition at an area hospital, a gun was recovered at the shooting scene and no officers were hurt, according to authorities.
Verona Gunn, who was in her 80s, died in a traffic crash involving two Chicago police vehicles Saturday night in the Austin community on the West Side. About a dozen other people were injured in the collision, including 10 Chicago police officers.
On Monday, Lightfoot said a critical part of the city’s overall strategy was getting illegal guns off the streets by focusing on gun traffickers, convicted felons carrying guns and on those who have their firearm ownership cards revoked.
She said there are too many illegal guns on the streets and guns were too easily accessible to people willing to pull the trigger. The message must be clear that picking up a gun is not how to resolve disputes, she said.
“For those who think it is, we can give them no quarter, they can have no sanctuary in our city,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure we flood these areas with a lot more resources.”
Chicago Tribune’s Todd Lighty, Rosemary Sobol and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas contributed.
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