Chicago Police SWAT Teams Patrol City After 82 Shot, 14 Killed, Over Holiday Weekend
Heavily-armed police SWAT teams are patrolling the streets of Chicago following a violent Fourth of July weekend during which at least 82 people were shot, 14 of them fatally.
The Chicago Tribune reports dozens of shooting incidents occurred in America’s third-largest city over the weekend.
Among the 82 shooting victims, who were concentrated in the city’s South Side, were five people shot by police, including two boys ages 14 and 16 who were killed after allegedly refusing to drop guns they were carrying. Witnesses claim one of the slain boys, 16-year-old Warren Robinson, was unarmed and had his hands in the air when he was shot by police.
“They shot him over 20 times,” Georgiana Utendahl, Robinson’s mother, told CBS Chicago. “They are trying to say he had a gun on him and he didn’t have a gun on him.”
The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the officer-involved shootings.
In the most recent fatal shooting incident, 44-year-old Tonya Gunn was struck by bullets fired by a drive-by shooter while attending a family barbecue in Morgan Park at around 12:30 a.m. on Monday. Gunn’s 11-year-old daughter was standing beside her when she was gunned down, WLS reports.
The spike in shootings in the crime-ridden city prompted authorities to dispatch police SWAT teams to patrol affected neighborhoods. A police helicopter and SUV shuttled lockers full of rifles to SWAT units, the Tribune reported.
In a Monday morning press conference, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called the violence “unacceptable” and blamed it in part on a “proliferation of firearms.”
McCarthy also pointed the finger at the gangs infesting much of the city of 2.7 million inhabitants and said lax state and federal firearms laws are to blame.
“There is more of a sanction from their gangs for losing a weapon than there is to get arrested with an illegal firearm,” said McCarthy. “Something’s got to change.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who also wants stricter gun laws, condemned the wave of shootings.
“This violence is unacceptable wherever it occurs in our city and all of us need to take a stand,” Emanuel said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Emanuel announced a “summer safety” campaign featuring increased police presence throughout the summer months, including 300 additional officers on duty over the Fourth of July weekend.
“We all know that crime spikes in the summer when there are more people out on the street, and more opportunities for confrontations and violence,” McCarthy said in unveiling the plan in April.
“Just because that’s a reality doesn’t mean it is acceptable, and we will continue building on our policing strategy to ensure every family, every child and every resident can enjoy a safe and carefree summer,” added McCarthy.
As of Monday morning, no suspects had been arrested in connection with any of the weekend shootings.