We're halfway through one of the least-deadly years in recent Chicago homicide history, but here's a reminder that summer is just getting started: at least 41 were shot and 7 killed in Chicago this weekend. And while city gun violence typically doesn't get as much attention as other mass shootings, especially in more affluent neighborhoods, the Chicago story fits into the bigger national conversation on gun control, just slightly more than six months after the Newtown shootings shook the issue into the spotlight.
This weekend was the most violent so far in the city, but not the most deadly: eight died in Chicago during the last weekend in January. The Chicago Tribune has a sweeping feature report on the weekend's toll on the city. Victims this weekend include Kevin Rivera, a 16-year-old who tried to flee gunmen on his bike; Ricardo Herrera, 21; Todd Wood, 40, who was killed in a mass shooting at a club (two others were wounded); Cortez Wilberton, 31; Jamal Jones, 19; and Antwon Johnson, 24, who was shot by police:
"[Johnson was shot] after he raised a 9-millimeter handgun in their direction after bailing from a moving car and falling, police said. His mother disputed that account. “It’s not true,” said Stacy Liberty. “How could someone have a gun and point it to you if they’re already on the ground?”
Liberty said the car had been lurching down the block because the people in the car were trying to identify an address. The presence of a police car behind them must have made Johnson nervous, his mother said."
Liberty told the Tribune that Johnson had a record, but "hasn’t been in trouble in a while." His job search was struggling because of his criminal record, she added.
What's perhaps most striking about the Tribune report is the amount of residue from the violence still left on the streets, which they describe as "literally stained:"
"In the city’s Little Village neighborhood, 15 lit memorial candles stood in blood...About five miles away, a long trail of blood remained splattered in a Northwest Side alley — and on the bumper of a nearby car — where 16-year-old Kevin Rivera tried to run from a gunman on a bicycle, authorities told the Tribune."
And when Jamal Jones's family went to the scene where the 19-year-old was shot, they found his bike still there, along with needles left behind from the paramedics.
As of last week, Chicago's murder rate was down 34 percent, the Chicago Sun-Times noted. When the Tribune asked authorities about this weekend's numbers, they cited the overall lower crime rates as evidence that their strategy is working.