Two mass shootings within two hours of each other this weekend stemmed from gang conflict and retaliatory shootings, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday, decrying “street justice” driven by a “thirst for revenge.”
“Both incidents appear to be internal gang conflicts. Retaliatory shootings for past incident,” the mayor said, noting that Chicago police detectives who worked through the night “have some promising leads.”
About a third of the 78 people shot between Friday evening and early Monday were wounded in just four attacks, including the two mentioned by the mayor. Four were shot in each of the other two.
Lightfoot said yet another summer weekend marred by mass shootings is “both heartbreaking and frustrating.”
Heartbreaking for those killed and wounded and the people who loved them, she said, and equally heartbreaking for the wounds inflicted “psychologically” on those left “traumatized” by gun violence in their gang-infested neighborhoods.
“What’s also frustrating and heartbreaking is that, for some in our community, their thirst for revenge has no sense of decency. They don’t want to let the criminal justice system play itself out,” the mayor said.
“They want to engage in street justice, which is tragic and terrible because, invariably what happens — like we’ve seen so many times with way too many children in our city across this year — when they aim, they don’t get the target. They get the children and the innocent bystanders who have a right to live in our city without fear of being felled by gun violence.”
Chicago has seen at least 331 homicides so far this year, compared to 319 at this point last year and 247 in 2019. That’s an almost 4 percent increase over last year and a 34 percent increase compared to 2019.
There have been at least 1,842 shootings this year, compared to 1,625 at this time in 2020 and 1,171 in 2019. This year has seen a more than 13 percent increase compared to 2020, and 57 percent compared to 2019.
City Hall and police officials have stressed that the increase in violence from last year to this year has been slowing, with this June seeing fewer homicides and shootings than last June. Still, last year was one of the worst for gun violence since the mid-1990s, and this year remains on track for even more shootings and homicides.
Lightfoot, sounding an all-too-familiar theme, demanded that Chief Judge Tim Evans order the full resumption of criminal trials for the first time since the pandemic.
“We still have too many murderers that are not being held accountable — not just in Chicago, but across this country. But, our county is being plagued. So I’m calling our our county partners — and particularly those in the criminal courts. Open up the courts. People need to get their day in court. Justice delayed is justice denied,” she said.
“You’re hurting not only those who are charged, but also those in the community. The victims, the survivors and the witnesses who need to have a measure of justice. Our criminal courts have been shut down for fifteen months. They need to reopen. We need to see the wheels of justice moving for our victims and their families.”
Earlier this month, Evans announced he had asked a committee of criminal justice stakeholders to determine how to safely accelerate the reopening of criminal courts to in-person proceedings, including increasing the capacity for bench and jury trials.
But Evans’ news release making that announcement also noted that while in-person criminal proceedings have been “limited,” since the pandemic, the courts “never really closed” and the “administration of justice, including hearings, bench trials, guilty pleas, findings of innocence and dismissal of cases have continued” for the past 15 months.
Lightfoot said she is “grateful” for the anti-violence help offered to big cities like Chicago by President Biden last week. She called them a “step in the right direction,” including “things I’ve been advocating for since 2019.”
That includes new powers for ATF and a crackdown on gun dealers, whom the mayor claims, are well aware that they are “selling to criminals and straw purchasers” but do it anyway.
“They need to be held accountable as well. And I’m glad the President is now empowering the ATF to be able to do their job and hold those people accountable,” the mayor said.
Already this year, the Chicago Police Department has taken “almost 6,000 crime guns” off the streets, Lightfoot said, calling that a “fraction of what’s out there.”
“When we have this many guns, we have to have accountability…for the people who are picking up guns and settling petty disputes at the tip of a bullet. This has got to stop,” the mayor said.
“We need the federal government and all of our partners to step up and do their parts.”
In the first of the two mass shootings Sunday, a gunman in a black SUV sprayed bullets at a group of people in South Shore around 8:45 p.m., killing one woman and wounding five other people, according to Chicago police.
Hours later, a woman was killed and at least 10 people were shot in Marquette Park when gunmen stepped from an alley, fire officials said.
No one was in custody in either shooting. There have been at least eight other mass shootings in Chicago this month.
In the Marquette Park attack, emergency crews were called to the scene of an accident at 63rd and Western Avenue about 10:30 p.m. when a shooting occurred just a block away on Artesian, fire officials said.
A group of people was gathered outside about 10:50 p.m. when three people came out of an alley and started firing, Chicago police said. A woman was shot in the chest and was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. She hasn’t been identified.
Police Supt. David Brown said Monday that the Marquette Park shooting stemmed from a year-long gang conflict in which the gunmen were seeking retaliation. The woman killed in that attack was an innocent bystander, while one of the wounded men was targeted, he said.
The shooters’ car was seen but detectives have no license plate or description of the shooters, Brown said.
In the South Shore shooting, detectives know the gunfire came from an SUV but don’t have a plate number.
Brown asked anyone with information on the shootings to contact the department.
Contributing: Madeline Kenney, Sophie Sherry