A bloody July Fourth weekend in Chicago has left six dead and 66 people hurt.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson flooded the streets with an addition 1,500 officers in a bid to combat the expected jump in criminal activity over the holiday.
He reported 42 shootings, which killed six people and injured a further 66, between the time-frame of 6pm on July 3 and midnight on July 7.
The totals were lower than during the same time frame for the Fourth of July weekend in 2017, which ended with more than 100 people shot including 15 who died.
During the weekend, a further least two people were stabbed and 13 injured at the July Fourth fireworks at the downtown Navy Pier.
Police say the injuries occurred as people tried to flee the scene, fearing that somebody had a gun.
In a review of the events, he highlighted the length of the weekend as a contribution to the higher figures, but maintained it was a ‘senseless level of violence’.
Supt. Johnson said: ‘Weekends like this one are ones that we just cannot continue to see and this city deserves better.
‘As the head of the Chicago Police Department, I promise you, we will continue to do our part, but as I have said before, the police department simply cannot do this alone.
‘We all have a role in changing the status quo, we can’t let gangs and guns overcome the power of family, community and the strength of our neighborhoods.’
Gun violence mainly centered around the West and South sides of Chicago.
The two highest areas were Engelwood (7th District) with five shootings and four in Deering (9th).
A further three shootings took place in each of the three West side areas of Harrison (11th), Near West (12th) and Austin (15th).
During the weekend officers made recovered 199 guns and arrested 84 individuals on gun related charges.
From figures released so far, 42 individuals were charged with felony weapons violations and released on bond. Another additional 15 remain in custody.
The data relayed only applied to July 3 – 5, due to the processing still under way – the overall numbers are expected to be higher.
Supt. Johnson described the illegal weapons on Chicago streets during that time, as a ‘ridiculous amount of guns’ and praised cops.
‘Each one of these interactions, I want you to be mindful that they potentially neutralized a possible act of violence,’ he said.
‘This equates to nearly two illegal guns per-hour that were taken off the streets this weekend by CPD.’
Johnson said that officers often know the ‘defendants who pull the triggers’ due to having local knowledge of their beats and neighborhoods.
Of the spike in crimes over the four-day weekend, one 18-year-old man was killed and a friend injured.
The incident occurred on July 4th, which is deemed to be the worst day from previous records, after a moment of road rage ended in the suspects firing into their car.
Another, the day happened after two men opened fire on two victims, while walking towards them. Despite trying to flee, they died of their wounds.
Three people were shot dead on the Saturday, July 6, outside Renaissance hotel in downtown.
On the final day of the July Fourth weekend, a woman and a man were both stabbed on East Washington street on July 7.
He admitted there was a problem with mass incarceration and that he did not wanting to fill jails with ‘low level offenders’.
But Johnson decreed that offenders must be held accountable and take responsibility for what they had done.
‘We know these offenders are likely to continue the behavior that landed them in handcuffs in the first place,’ he said.
‘We know this because we keep arresting them over and over again. Now that’s not a risk as a city or a society that we should be willing to take.’
Johnson thanked the officers who spent the weekend ‘protecting our city’ and the risk they took to prevent ‘several acts of potential retaliation.’
‘We will never be able to measure how many lives they saved or shootings they actually prevented,’ he added.
In response to the violence, Johnson told the conference: ‘My job, our job as police officers, is to be a voice for the voiceless.
‘So if anyone wants to talk about how to solve the issue of Chicago’s repeat gun offenders, trust me when I tell you I’m all ears.’
Johnson explained that he understands the ‘stranglehold that gangs’ can have over neighborhoods from his childhood, where he grew-up in areas facing similar problems.
He blamed the ‘struggle, challenges and lack of opportunities’ that people contend with in some of areas, as a reason for them joining gangs.
One resident, Reverend Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church, also believes that greater funding is needed to help with the issues.
‘We marched last year, we protested last year, talking about lets end the “tale of two cities”‘ he told ABC7.
‘But clearly you can see that the majority of the killings they happened on the south side and the west side so we need some economic resources.’
Johnson praised the CPD officers, many of whom had days-off cancelled and work up to 14 hour shifts.
‘While others were enjoying barbecues and pool parties, these officers were responding to calls in the summer heat,’ he added.
‘On behalf of a grateful city and department, thank you all for your hard work and I also want to thank your families for their sacrifice.’
Johnson also thanked members of the public for their bravery in speaking out by alerting police to suspects potentially carrying a weapon.
But he warned that Chicago would continue to be at risk until gun offenders and gun violence is prioritized.
‘Our relationship with the community is damaged when we cannot keep an individual incarcerated after being caught with illegal weapons in the City of Chicago.
‘These days the voices of those families torn apart by violence have become silenced.’
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is scheduled to talk to the media this evening.
SOURCE: Daily Mail — Josh Saunders, AP