CHICAGO – Three people were shot and killed and several others wounded in Chicago during the first weekend of the summer – a relatively quiet start to a time of year when the number of homicides typically climbs as temperatures do the same.
Police said the first two slayings occurred Friday on the city’s northwest side. The initial shooting happened shortly before 8 p.m. when a man walked up to a group of people sitting on a porch and opened fire, killing a 21-year-old man. Three others were injured.
A short time later, a man climbed out of a car in the same part of the city and started shooting, killing a 36-year-old man and critically wounding a 37-year-old man, police said.
The third killing came Saturday afternoon on the South Side when a 20-year-old man was fatally shot. Another man was shot in the wrist.
The recent shootings follow a deadlier weekend in which seven people were slain and at least 41 injured. Among those killed was a teenager shot by police after he pointed a gun at officers, according to the department.
Together, the two weekends serve as a reminder of what happens when the weather heats up and more people are outside and hang out later into the night: The death toll climbs.
Chicago has been known to have a few dozen homicides and several dozen shooting incidents each month during summer months. Last year, 105 homicides occurred in July and August.
The month of June hasn’t been as violent this year as summers past, though.
Between June 1 and June 22, the city had recorded 31 homicides compared to 36 for the same period last year, and 157 shootings compared to 184 during the same period last year.
So far this year, Chicago has 171 homicides – 77 fewer than the same period last year. And the number of shooting incidents – 787 – is nearly 300 fewer than the same period last year.
Last year, the city topped 500 homicides and gained national attention as a result of that staggering statistic.
Police say the current numbers suggest that a host of crime-fighting strategies they’ve implemented and refined to combat violent street gangs are paying off.
“We are getting better at what we are doing,” said Robert Tracy, the department’s chief of crime control strategies.
The strategies include putting hundreds of police officers on the street on overtime in high-crime areas and implementing an intelligence-gathering “audit” that helps the department identify rival gangs. Officers are also working to react to gang-related shootings more quickly.
Some say the city just caught a break with the weather during the spring. And while the latest statistics give them hope, they’re still concerned about what could happen in the days ahead.
“I am encouraged (but) we will see what happens,” Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. said.
Tracy, though, said police are ready for whatever the weather and criminals have in store for them.
“More people on the streets means more interaction that can cause conflicts and sometimes those conflicts can cause violence,” Tracy said. “We understand that and we have a plan in place [and] we can adjust our strategies and tweak them and make changes as necessary.”