More than 500 homicides have been recorded in the US city of Chicago so far this year, surpassing the total number of last year’s murders, according to data collected and analyzed by The Chicago Tribune.
Shootings over the Labor Day weekend resulted in the deaths of 13 people and wounded at least 52 others, causing the city to reach its highest murder rate in two decades.
“There are 500 more people that were in the city that are no longer here because of useless violence … people don’t have regard for life anymore,” resident Stephanie Armas said.
A total of 92 murders happened in August, making it the deadliest month in the city since June 1993.
“It’s not a police issue, it’s a society issue,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters on Tuesday. “Impoverished neighborhoods, people without hope do these kinds of things.”
“You show me a man that doesn’t have hope, I’ll show you one that’s willing to pick up a gun and do anything with it,” he said, adding, “Those are the issues that’s driving this violence. CPD is doing its job.”
The city had 480 homicides in 2015, while it hit 512 before the end of the summer this year.
Twelve murders were reported on Father’s Day weekend alone, with the youngest victim aged just 16.
The majority of homicides in the third largest US city are gun-related, with nearly 82 shootings taking place per week.
The city has strict gun laws and 60 percent of the guns used in shootings were bought out of state.
“We border Indiana and Wisconsin, which have really lax gun laws,” Johnson said. “We know that people from Chicago go across the border, fill up gym bags with illegal weapons from gun shows and things of that nature and they come back here and sell them to the gangs.”
Unlike Chicago, New York City and other cities like Milwaukee, Memphis and Los Angeles, have seen the number of killings decrease in 2016.
In New York, 227 murders were reported through August 28, on pace to be fewer killings than last year’s total of 352.