The week began with 12 people shot to death in the nation’s capital of Washington and ended with 13 shot and wounded in a park in Chicago, dubbed the nation’s murder capital because of its high rate of violence.
Three of the victims of the Chicago attack, including a 3-year-old child, were listed in critical condition Friday morning, a spokesman for the Chicago police told the Los Angeles Times. Ten others are listed in serious or fair condition in various hospitals, the spokesman said.
“Senseless and brazen acts of violence have no place in Chicago and betray all that we stand for,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement Friday. “The perpetrators of this crime will be brought to justice and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I encourage everyone in the community to step forward with any information and everyone in Chicago to continue their individual efforts to build stronger communities where violence has no place.”
In addition to the attack on the park, at least five other people were shot in four hours around the city in unrelated incidents, according to the Chicago Tribune. Of the 18 shot, at least one person was dead.
Police said they were still investigating what they said they believe was gang-related violence.
Full coverage of Chicago park shooting
The attack took place Thursday shortly after 10 p.m. at Cornell Square Park in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Witnesses said they saw a gray sedan pull up to the park and two people opened fire.
The 3-year-old was on the basketball court in the park and was one of the first hit. The boy, identified by relatives as Deonta’ Howard, was shot near his ear and will require plastic surgery, his grandmother, Semehca Nunn, told reporters.
Two other victims were a 15-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl. The eldest of the victims was 41 years old.
"I think it was like an AK," said one neighbor. "Man, it was a lot of shots. Man, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. A little boy got hit in the face." Another neighbor told the newspaper he heard 20 shots.
Thursday’s park attack comes nearly three weeks after a burst of Labor Day weekend violence led to eight people being killed and 20 injured.
Chicago also had the highest number of homicides in the nation, at 500, up from 431 in 2011. By comparison, New York with a larger population reported 419 murders in 2012, down from the year before, according to the FBI statistics.
The city's violent record drew national attention in January when Hadiya Pendleton, 15, a member of her high school’s majorette team, was gunned down not long after she had returned from Washington after performing at an event celebrating the second inauguration of President Obama. That shooting, which occurred not far from Obama’s family home, was mentioned by the president in his State of the Union speech this year.
Chicago's police superintendent has said that overall violence is down so far this year compared with 2012. Facing criticism from irate residents, the department stepped up its crime-fighting efforts by adding patrols and increasing overtime to officers. Through the first six months of the year, the department spent more than $57 million on overtime pay for officers.
But violent crime remains a national issue and is tied to the ongoing debate over gun control. Though tragedies like the shootings in Newton, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; and this week’s attack on the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C., capture much of the debate, most of the more deadly violence takes place in what should otherwise be tranquil city venues--such as the basketball court and park in Chicago.
According to the FBI's data, 69% of recorded homicides in America in 2012 involved the use of a gun.
All violent crime increased by 0.7% across the nation, the FBI noted, but 15 cities across the United States reported more than 100 murders in 2012, including Detroit at 386 murders, Philadelphia at 331 and Los Angeles at 299.
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