clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

With more than 500 homicides, Chicago’s violent death total falls for 3rd straight year

The Cook County medical examiner’s office has found 510 deaths in Chicago in 2019 were homicides. The CPD, meanwhile, has classified 491 deaths as murders.

Three armed robberies were reported in Albany Park and Irving Park in January. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Though there were more than 500 killings this year, Chicago is poised to finish the decade with the fewest murders in a given year since 2015 — capping a decade that saw more than 5,200 people killed throughout the city.

As of Monday, the Chicago Police Department had tallied 491 murders on the year. The total is down from the 579 recorded in 2018, the 670 in 2017 and the nearly 800 recorded in 2016. The Cook County medical examiner’s office, meanwhile, has found 510 deaths in Chicago in 2019 were homicides.

“This is a milestone for us, it’s not success though,” CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Monday.

So far, arrests have been made in 101 murder cases that originated in 2019, according to department records.

The Harrison District on the West Side — historically one of the most violent parts of the city — again had the most murders of the CPD’s 22 districts in 2019, with 71 as of Monday. The Lincoln District on the North Side was the only district in the city to not see a single murder all year.

The deadliest incident of the year occurred in October when, authorities allege, Krysztof Marek opened fire on a family in a condo building on the Northwest Side, killing five. It was the fourth time since 2001 that five or more people were murdered in a single incident in Chicago.

The largest decrease in murders came in the CPD’s Calumet District on the Far South Side. In 2018, the district saw 61 murders. This year, the total dropped to 32, though the district was still the seventh deadliest in the city overall.

CPD leadership is expected to address 2019’s murder totals Tuesday.

The CPD and medical examiner’s office categorize violent deaths differently, which leads to an annual discrepancy in the two agencies’ yearly totals.

The medical examiner’s office determines cause and manner of death — natural, accident, suicide or homicide — while the Police Department determines if a homicide was criminal in nature.

Though the terms are often — and incorrectly — used interchangeably, not all homicides are murders. For example, a concealed-carry holder fatally shot a gunman in Little Village in May. The medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide, but the CPD doesn’t classify the death as a murder.

The CPD’s statistics also do not include shootings that occur on Chicago expressways, as those are investigated by the Illinois State Police. Additionally, if someone suffered an injury in 2018 but died of those wounds in 2019, the CPD would classify that as a 2018 murder. The medical examiner’s office, meanwhile, would consider that to be a 2019 homicide.

Chicago’s 2019 murder victims ranged in age from just a few months to 75 years old.

According to the medical examiner’s office, the majority of Chicago’s homicide victims — 315 as of Monday — were African American males between 15 and 40 years old. Forty-eight of 2019’s victims were Latino males between 16 and 40. African American women accounted for 43 homicide victims in 2019, ranging in age from 18 to 70.