CHICAGO—(Chicago Tribune): At least seven people were killed and 32 others were wounded by gunfire in Chicago over the sweltering Memorial Day weekend as more than 1,000 extra police officers patrolled the streets, beaches and parks.
Shootings happened in neighbourhoods stretching as far south as West Pullman and Brainerd, to West Side communities like Austin and East Garfield Park and to Northwest Side areas that usually don’t see much violence like Portage Park and Albany Park. One strangulation death also was reported.
With the shooting tally from 3 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Tuesday, this year’s Memorial Day weekend was less violent than last year. For the entire holiday weekend in 2017, 45 people were shot, 7 of them killed, according to data kept by the Tribune. Seventy-one people were shot, six fatally, throughout the same weekend in 2016 —one of the most violent Memorial Day weekends in years.
The extended weekend is typically one of the busiest of the year for the Chicago Police Department. More than 1,000 extra officers were deployed to address any flare-ups in violence.
Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon at Foster Avenue beach, Deputy Chief Al Nagode said he’s had officers on bicycle patrol riding through the beaches north of Fullerton Avenue and other officers monitoring neighbourhoods for retaliation after previous shootings.
“We’re balancing the officers that I need on the lakefront, and I’ve got my gang teams and my (saturation) teams and those guys that are working in the districts targeting not only the individuals that are driving the violence but the gangs that are creating the culture that’s allowing this violence to occur,” said Nagode, who oversees street patrol operations on the North, Northwest and West Sides.
Officers also descended on beaches and parks south of Fullerton, the downtown area that includes North Michigan Avenue and the South Loop. Much of their efforts focused on large groups of youths that were at times roaming through those areas, some of them causing disruptions to people and businesses. In one instance, groups of teens damaged property at a Target store at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street, Chicago police said.
Several people from these crowds were arrested on misdemeanour reckless conduct and disorderly conduct offences during the weekend. Officers would corral the groups onto CTA Red Line trains at Chicago Avenue and State Street, forcing them to ride toward the South Side, police sources said.
The crowds swelled so much at Chicago and State that, according to CTA spokesperson Irene Ferradaz, a Red Line train was stopped for almost 15 minutes at the request of police to get people off the train. Buses were also deployed to transport people away from the area.
Much of the teenage crowd aboard the trains exited at 35th Street and tried to make their way east toward the lake, only to be met by more cops along the way, police sources said. At least one robbery was also reported involving the crowds Sunday night.