Chicago recorded 762 homicides in 2016, the most killings in the city in two decades and more than New York and Los Angeles combined.
There were 1100 more shootings in 2016 than in the previous year, according to statistics released by the Chicago Police Department that underlined a story of bloodshed that has put Chicago at the center of a national dialogue about gun violence. The increase in 2016 homicides compared to 2015, when 485 were reported, is the largest spike in 60 years.
Police are blaming illegal guns for the spike crime – police recovered 8,300 illegal guns in 2015, up 20 percent from the previous year. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said anger at police, including in the wake of video released that showed a white Chicago officer shooting a black teenager 16 times, has left criminals “emboldened” to violent crimes.
He also said it’s becoming clearer to criminals that they have little to fear from the criminal justice system.
To make matters worse, 2017 opens with a fatal gunfight at an Uptown bar. An argument between two men in the early hours of Jan. 1 ended with the two shooting one another and both dead.
The pair of deaths marked the first and second homicides of 2017. According to the Chicago Tribune, by the time police were dispatched to the shooting at 4:30 a.m. there had already been an officer-involved shooting. A man who led police on a car chase, before physically resisting arrest, was shot by an officer before 3 a.m. As of Sunday, the unnamed man was in critical condition.
Superintendent Johnson said he was optimistic 2017 will be a safer year for Chicago, pointing to several new policing initiatives, including the roll out of data-driven command centers in violence-plagued Englewood District and Harrison District later this month.