Antonio Brown isn’t the only alleged gun offender whose release on bail has Chicago’s top cop fuming.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy is angry about the killing of Brown’s 7-year-old son, Amari, who was shot on the Fourth of July by a gunman aiming at his father.The boy would still be alive if a judge had kept Brown behind bars on gun charges, the superintendent says.
But hundreds of other people also have been returned to the streets of Chicago this year after being charged with gun possession, according to McCarthy, who sees that as a key reason for the city’s violence.
“Until such time that people go to jail for possession of an illegal firearm, we’re going to be in a bad situation,” McCarthy told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview conducted before Amari Brown’s death.
On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was “saddened and sickened” by the killing of Amari Brown and his father’s reported lack of cooperation with detectives.
“You have too many guns on the streets. You have a criminal-justice system that lets out too many people repeatedly who use guns. You have a father who’s lost a child that should be cooperating with the police department in solving the crime of their child. And you have gang-bangers without any moral compunction — without any moral remorse or responsibility shooting into a playground or shooting into a front yard as if it’s their personal shooting gallery,” Emanuel said.
“From the criminal justice system to elected leaders as it relates to gun laws . . . to raising people with values, the adults have let . . . Amari Brown down,” he said.
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Police have said Antonio Brown isn’t cooperating with them in their investigation into his son’s murder.
Antonio Brown’s attorney, David E. Gaeger, said it’s his client’s intention to fully cooperate with police investigating his son’s death.
“As information comes in, we plan on speaking with them . . . but my client wanted to be afforded the opportunity to talk with his lawyers first,” Gaeger told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Asked if he thought it unusual that Brown would need to speak to a lawyer before assisting detectives investigating his son’s death, Gaeger said: “I don’t think it’s uncommon to have your attorney present when you are speaking with police, especially someone who has dealt with things like this before and has seen these things in his community.”
In the first quarter of 2015, officers arrested 688 people for illegal possession of a gun —and four of them were arrested twice for the same offense, McCarthy said in the interview.By April 1, 60 percent of those people were back on the street, including the four people with two gun arrests, he said.
Toward the end of June, about 75 percent of those people were back on the street. And eight of them were arrested twice for gun possession over that six-month period — with six back on the street, McCarthy said.
“What do we have to do in a city that seizes more guns than any department in the country?” he said. “We’re 3-to-1 over L.A., 7 -to-1 over New York. We are arresting people. What’s the system doing about it?”
An extraordinary proliferation of guns in Chicago — and lack of fear of carrying illegal weapons — is fueling the violence here, McCarthy said.
The Fourth of July weekend was no different, with 10 killed and 53 wounded —once again drawing international attention to the bloodshed endemic to the city.
Two nephews of State Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, were among the victims.
The two brothers, who were originally from Chicago but had recently moved to Missouri, were fatally shot Sunday while sitting in an SUV in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, according to police.
The brothers, John Hunter, 25, and Willie Hunter, 31, were back in town for the holiday weekend, a spokeswoman for Hunter said.
“We are heartbroken and saddened by this tragic and senseless loss of life,” Hunter said in a statement. “My family is no different than any other family, and far too many of us have lost family members to the violence that continue to plague our communities.”
The shootings occurred about 6 a.m. in the 8800 block of South Bishop, when a man walked up and opened fire on the brothers, police. Both suffered multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Amari Brown, 7, was fatally shot Saturday night in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. | Family photo
Also among the victims were Amari Brown and a 26-year-old woman. They were standing in the 1100 block of North Harding on Saturday, just before midnight, when the boy was fatally shot and the woman was wounded, police said. The woman, who was not identified, was recovering at a hospital.
Antonio Brown, 29, is a ranking member of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang and has amassed 45 arrests in his life, police said.
His record includes felony convictions on drug charges in 2003 and 2004, for which he received probation; another drug conviction that landed him in the Cook County boot camp in 2006; and a guilty plea to 2012 heroin charges that resulted in a one-year state prison term, most of which he served while in the Cook County Jail, records show.
In April, he was charged with being an armed habitual criminal, which carries a sentence of at least six years in prison if he’s convicted. He also faces charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a gun by a gang member.
Antonio Brown mug shot| Chicago Police photo
McCarthy indicated that Brown’s $50,000 bond was far too low for those charges.
Brown was arrested on April 6 after he allegedly tried to drive away from Chicago Police officers chasing him on the Eisenhower Expy., according to a police report.
Brown was driving a 2005 Infiniti G35 when officers tried to stop him for a traffic violation, police say. He allegedly drove on the shoulder of the expressway to escape but crashed into an exit barrier. Officers say they saw Brown holding a loaded, stolen .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, which he tossed into the driver’s seat before he ran away and was chased down.
Police said he admitted to being a member of the Four Corner Hustlers.
On April 7, Judge James R. Brown set his bail at $50,000 and Antonio Brown posted $5,000 to gain his freedom. The judge didn’t return a call seeking comment.
On Monday evening, a numb-looking Antonio Brown was at the front of a crowd that numbered in the hundreds, as they marched for peace Monday on the West Side.
Amber Hailey and Antonio Brown carry a sign during a march for their son, Amari Brown, on Harding Street in Chicago on Monday July 6, 2015. | Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media
Others bellowed into a bullhorn, but Brown was mostly silent as the procession made its way through the Humboldt Park neighborhood, where his son was fatally shot Saturday night.
“Just let me grieve. Don’t nobody know what I got going on. Don’t nobody understand my pain,” said Brown, wearing a pin on his chest that read, “Never forget Amari Brown.”
Carl O’Neal, Brown’s uncle, angrily denounced McCarthy, saying now was not the time to criticize a grieving father.
“It was totally out of order ’cause the coward is whoever shot my nephew. That’s the coward. Not the father, at all. And for him to get on live TV and say something like that, he need to [lose] his job,” O’Neal said.
Mothers held babies and pushed toddlers in strollers as those in the procession chanted: “Save our children! Save our community!”
Contributing: Stefano Esposito, Fran Spielman, Jon Seidel
Rev. Walter Jones calls for prayer and peace during the Amari Brown March on Harding Street in Chicago on Monday. | Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media
Marchers carry signs during the Amari Brown Peace March on Harding Street in Chicago on Monday. | Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media