6700 block of South Winchester in West Englewood. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

Miserable milestone: Chicago surpasses 600 homicides this year

SHARE Miserable milestone: Chicago surpasses 600 homicides this year
SHARE Miserable milestone: Chicago surpasses 600 homicides this year

Vernadette Taylor moved to West Englewood’s 6700 block of South Winchester more than 30 years ago with her husband, son and daughter.

In the last year and a half, three shootings on her block have left one man dead and 10 others hurt.

The 28-year-old man killed on her block Monday night helped push Chicago past a miserable milestone as he was one of more than 600 homicides the city has seen so far this year — a 24 percent uptick compared to the same time last year, not to mention about 100 killings more than the homicide totals in New York and Los Angeles combined this year.

Nonfatal shootings also are way up citywide. As of last week, more than 2,100 people had been wounded this year and survived, compared with about 1,400 people shot in the same time period in 2015.

“It wasn’t always like this,” Taylor said Tuesday. “Within the last two or three years it’s gotten to be almost like you’re in the middle of a war zone.”

Taylor had just parked her car in her garage Monday night when gunfire erupted outside.

A man was killed and a 13-year-old boy was one of four wounded in a shooting about 8:50 p.m., police said.

Police said the five were standing in a front yard when another group walked up and opened fire before running off.

Timothy Agnew, 28, was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene at 9:18 p.m., according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He lived in the 8100 block of South Maryland.

Sources said the shooting involved rival factions of the Gangster Disciples and New Breeds, both of which claim territory in the 6700 block of South Winchester.

Taylor couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from. “There were too many to count,” she said.

Monday’s shooting was just part of a bloody night on the South Side.

About two hours later, Ronald McBee, 24, was shot to death in the 7300 block of South Morgan, authorities said.

McBee was the 600th homicide recorded in Chicago in 2016, and another killing Tuesday morning in West Pullman brought the homicide count to 601, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of data kept by the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Last year, 486 homicides were recorded citywide.

The overwhelming majority of homicide victims this year — 540 people — have died of gunshot wounds, according to the medical examiner’s office. Another 28 have been stabbed to death.

There also have been 19 people beaten to death, nine arson-related homicides, three child-abuse killings and two people killed when after they were willfully run down by people driving cars.

The Chicago Police Department investigates most — but not all — of the homicide cases; expressway shootings are handled by the Illinois State Police. Also, the medical examiner’s total includes seven people who were shot or attacked in previous years but who died in 2016.

As a result, the police department’s homicide total this year is slightly lower than 601.

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that as of Tuesday morning the department had recorded 571 first-degree murders this year. First-degree murder is defined by the FBI as: “the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another.”

“The classification of this offense is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body,” according to the FBI.

As of mid-October, Chicago police had made arrests in 115 homicide cases this year.

In a statement Tuesday, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson put much of the blame for the city’s increase in gun violence on “repeat gun offenders.”

“While we have increased our enforcement efforts this month — including arrests for murder and illegal gun confiscations — the lack of accountability for repeat gun offenders is sickening and it continues to drive the cycle of violence in Chicago,” Johnson said.

“We are investing in a strategy centered around adding more expanding the size of the department, building a partnership with residents and working with legislators to ensure our sentencing laws help keep repeat gun offenders in jail where they belong,” Johnson added.

The 6700 block of South Winchester in Englewood. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

The 6700 block of South Winchester in Englewood. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

Tuesday afternoon, a group of about 10 men were standing outside the house in the 6700 block of South Winchester where the shooting occurred the night before. They declined to comment.

On Aug. 2 last year, four men between the ages of 19 and 25 were shot as they stood on the same block. All survived.

Six days later, 12-year-old and 15-year-old boys were wounded in another shooting on the block. The block saw another shooting in November 2012, but prior to that, no one had been shot on the block since May 2001, according to city records.

According to Taylor, the shootings have not been limited to people.

Earlier this year, Taylor said, a neighbor’s pit bull was shot to death right outside her home in the middle of the day. She found the dog lying at the bottom of her front steps.

Taylor said she was surprised, not just at the act of killing the animal, but when it happened.

“Broad daylight, in the middle of the afternoon,” she said.

Asked if the violence has ever made her consider moving away, Taylor said she’s considered it in the past, though her fixed income is a barrier.

“You make the best of what you got,” she said.

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