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Extra cops, ‘targeted’ arrests tamp down July 4 weekend shootings

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson| Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson credited targeted arrests of gang members ahead of the Fourth of July weekend with the relatively small number of shootings and homicides during the holiday.

Addressing reporters at Washington Park on Monday evening, Johnson called the four-day total of 39 shooting incidents and three fatalities a sign of progress as his department tries to tamp down a surge in killings through the first half of the year.

CPD also had about 5,000 officers on the street over the weekend, a significant increase over the 3,000 to 4,000 on patrol in the city on a typical day, with additional manpower from Illinois State Police and the Cook County sheriff’s office.

Ten people were killed over the three-day weekend in 2015.

“There is no magic bullet that’s going to solve the whole thing. This is going to happen in layers,” Johnson said. “This is progress. This is not success. We will never, ever arrest our way out of this.”

At a press conference on Thursday, Johnson announced the arrest of 88 people in police raids across the city targeting gang members, ostensibly taking them off the streets for the long weekend — a holiday that typically has been one of the most violent of the year.

“If you focus on the right individuals, you will see the gun violence decrease in Chicago,” Johnson told reporters, striking a theme he has repeated at almost every press conference since taking over as top cop in April.

“The gun violence is driven by a small segment. . . . If you start holding them accountable it absolutely can make a difference,” he said.

Johnson said the number of shootings over the long weekend still was unacceptable for the city, which has seen 328 homicides so far this year, an increase of nearly 50 percent from the same period in 2015. Johnson also used the press conference to announce the department would issue every police officer in four police districts with body-worn cameras by the end of July, continuing the expansion of a pilot program.

The three homicides over the weekend included:

• A man who was shot to death in the South Shore neighborhood Monday night, police said. Officers responding to a call of a traffic crash with injuries in the 6900 block of South Clyde about 9:20 p.m. found the man — thought to be in his 30s — lying in the street with a gunshot wound to his abdomen, police said. He was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he died, police said.

• A man in his 20s who was found shot dead in a lot across the street from Paderewski Elementary Learning Academy in South Lawndale, at 11:50 p.m. Sunday in Little Village, killed by an apparent gunshot wound to the back of the head.

• Early Saturday, 31-year-old Hector Badillo was killed outside his father’s auto shop in East Garfield Park, where a gunman came out of an alley and shot Badillo in the neck. A 44-year-old man who was sitting in a car nearby was shot in the leg, police said.

Johnson admitted it was not clear that the spate of targeted arrests ahead of the holiday weekend would have an effect on gun crimes for the rest of the summer, but he noted that 55 of those arrested had prior felony convictions.

“We’ll see how all the charges work out,” Johnson said.