By the end of a violent Labor Day weekend, Chicago had reached a grim milestone, recording more homicides through Monday night than the city experienced during all of last year. This tally came with a late surge of gunfire, as the Chicago police said there were 13 homicides over the Labor Day weekend, most of them on Monday, along with 43 shooting incidents, both numbers that topped those seen in the city a year earlier.
All told, by the end of Monday police said there were 488 homicides in Chicago so far this year, more than the 481 killings they logged last year — with nearly four months left in 2016. The surge in violence on Labor Day came after an average of three people were killed each day in August, marking a particularly brutal stretch in a bloody year.
Police have said that most of the city’s homicide victims were people killed by gunfire. In August alone, there were 92 victims of homicide, the city’s deadliest month in more than two decades and more killings than most big cities across the country recorded in the first six months of the year.
Eddie Johnson, the Chicago police superintendent, said the violence was due to repeat offenders in “impoverished neighborhoods” utilizing what he described as an absurd proliferation of guns on the streets.
“It’s not a police issue,” Johnson said at a news briefing Tuesday. “It’s a society issue … people without hope do these kinds of things.”
Police have attributed the spike in gun violence in Chicago to known, repeat offenders using illegal guns.
Chicago is on pace for more than 600 homicides in a single year for the first time since 2003. The country’s third-biggest city has had more killings so far this year than the two larger cities — New York and Los Angeles — combined.
While crime rates nationwide remain far below those seen just a quarter-century ago — between 1990 and 1995, Chicago had at least 800 homicide victims each year — homicides have spiked in a number of big cities across the country this year and last year.