An unusually high number of what police claim were gang related shootings rocked Chicago this weekend. Since 5 p.m. on Friday, 63 people have been shot, ten fatally. In one particularly deadly conflagration, 40 Chicagoans were shot in less than 7 hours..
“We know that some of these incidents were targeted and are related to gang conflicts in those areas,” said Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Fred Waller at a Sunday press conference.
Police said gangs took advantage of the warm summer weather as a majority of the shootings took place in large crowds gathered outside. In one such instance, reputed gang members fired into a crowd of mourners after a funeral, injuring eight people, including a 14-year-old girl.
“They take advantage of that opportunity and they shoot into a crowd, no matter who they hit,” Waller said.
Another shooting occured at a block party, where a 13-year-old boy was struck twice in the arm.
“If they shoot you, they don’t even run,” one man who watching police respond to the block party attack told the Chicago Tribune. “They just walk away, they ain’t trying to run.”
The youngest of the 63 victims was just eleven-years-old and fifteen of those wounded or killed were teens.
“My baby just left the house. Twenty minutes later, I get a call saying my baby got shot,” said the mother of one 17-year-old girl who was killed after being aught in the crossfire between two men engaging in a shoot out Sunday evening.
“My baby did not deserve this,” she told the Tribune. “My baby wasn’t the type to hang out. She was in school. She worked. She did everything she was supposed to do as a teenager. And then coward (expletive) took it all away from us.”
The majority of the violence took place in just four police districts in and around Chicago’s west side, away from the downtown area where police presence was increased for the annual music festival Lollapalooza.
The police have touted in recent months their crime prevention strategy, which focuses on confiscating illegal guns, more than 5,500 of which have been taken off the streets this year.
“I promise this city, we won’t be defeated,” Waller said. “We won’t be overrun by that small element that’s committing these reckless acts.”