On Father’s Day weekend, the city of Chicago suffered its deadliest weekend so far this year that left 104 people shot, 14 of them fatally including five minors.
As the Chicago Sun Times reports, one victim was Mekay James, a 3-year-old toddler, who was shot at 6:25PM on Saturday evening after a man pulled up in a blue Honda behind the black SUV that the boy’s father was driving. The toddler was shot in the back, though police believe the father was the intended target. Mekay’s father drove him to a hospital, but he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
NBC 5 Chicago listed dozens of the additional shootings over the weekend in Chicago, including a 13-year-old girl who was killed inside a home in a shooting where two other teens were also wounded, a 16 and 17-year-old who were shot and killed, and a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the chest and abdomen before being pronounced dead at a hospital.
Chicago Democrat Mayor Lori Lightfoot responded to the deadly weekend with comments on Twitter. “Our city’s collective heart breaks to hear the unfathomable news of a 3-year-old boy who was shot and killed tonight on Chicago’s West Side,” Mayor Lightfoot wrote. “There are simply no words to describe such a heinous, unconscionable act of cowardice to shoot at a toddler.”
The mayor also asked anyone with information on the shooting to submit a tip to the Chicago Police Department’s online tip website.
Police Superintendent David Brown defended the jobs that police are doing in responding to the shootings but criticized city authorities for failing to monitor those placed under home monitoring. “Cops are working hard, and there’s great leadership here. Our strategy ends up with arrests, and if you arrest someone that’s a violent offender, and they get right back out of jail and put on home monitoring, and no one monitors, we’re just chasing our tail,” Brown said.
Referring to the massive spike in crime, Max Kapustin, senior research director at the University of Chicago Crime Lab, told the Sun-Times, “I don’t even know how to put it into context. It’s beyond anything that we’ve ever seen before.”
Chicago is often cited as one of the most violent cities in America. According to a data tracker published by the Chicago Tribune, as of June 10, 2020 Chicago has had 239 homicides which is 8 more than were killed at this same point in 2019.
In 2019, Chicago had a total of 519 homicides, down from 573 in 2018, 676 in 2017 and a shocking 795 murders in 2016.
However, Chicago is not the only city to see a recent spike in violent crime over the past few weeks. Homicides shot up 250% in Los Angeles in the first week of June compared to the previous week according to CBS Los Angeles.
New York City has also seen a sudden surge in shootings over the past week. According to Fox News, 72 people were wounded in 53 shootings from June 15 through Father’s Day on June 21. Comparatively, during the same time period last year, only 14 people were shot in 12 shootings.
It’s open to speculation whether the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) decision to disband its plainclothes anticrime unit was a factor in the spike in crime. The spike in crime began on Monday June 15, the same day that 600 plainclothes officers were reassigned.
The cause of the recent spike in shootings and homicides is debated, with some foreseeing a future crime wave on the horizon. With the recent “defund the police” movement, many believe that current police officers may retire early, and the anti-police hostility may keep younger people from aspiring to become police officers.
Another factor in the increased crime could include Atlanta District Attorney (DA) Paul Howard’s decision to charge Officer Garrett Rolfe with felony murder and 10 other criminal charges following a deadly encounter with Rayshard Brooks. Following DA Howard’s decision to charge Officer Rolfe, the Atlanta Police Department experienced a higher than usual number of officers calling out sick.
It remains to be seen whether this spike in crime is temporary, or whether it will be here to stay for the foreseeable future.
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