Downtown, another weekend of violence: ‘Everyone in the community is extremely distressed’

After a mass shooting Sunday morning, an attempted carjacking early Monday led to a shootout in the South Loop. “The casual violence of these incidents is terrible,” one community leader said of Chicago’s crime cycle.

SHARE Downtown, another weekend of violence: ‘Everyone in the community is extremely distressed’
Chicago police work the scene where four people were shot the 400 block of North State Street early Sunday.

Chicago police work the scene where four people were shot the 400 block of North State Street early Sunday.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

With a spate of gun violence over the weekend, shootings and homicides in downtown Chicago continue to exceed last year’s alarming levels, even as citywide both are down from last year.

“In the last 18 months in the downtown police district, we’ve had more gun arrests than we’ve had in the last decade in its entirety. Let that sink in,” said downtown Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd).

That’s the Chicago Police Department’s 18th District, which is in the area Hopkins represents. That and CPD’s 1st District cover the bulk of downtown.

Between them, those areas have 14 murders this year, double the amount at this point in 2021; they also have 61 shooting incidents, compared to 39 a year ago at this time.

“I’ve lived here for 26 years and never imagined that we’d be dealing with this level of serious crime. Something has to change,” Brian Israel, president of the River North Residents Association, wrote Monday in an email to the Sun-Times.

“The casual violence of these incidents is terrible. But what’s even worse is their frequency. This kind of behavior can’t be allowed to become normalized.”

The latest weekend of gun violence in Chicago included a mass shooting early Sunday in River North and a South Loop shootout in which a motorist fended off would-be carjackers. Citywide, from Friday at 6 p.m. through Sunday at 11:59 p.m., Chicago police reported 26 shooting incidents, with 33 total shooting victims and one homicide.

“Everyone in the community is extremely distressed” about the unrelenting violence, Israel wrote.

Hopkins said his River North, Old Town, Streeterville and Lincoln Park constituents are “terrorized” on a daily basis — and talking about picking up stakes.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t get contact from someone who tells me they’ve had enough and they’re leaving Chicago. … People are frightened. They don’t see the situation changing. As long as we’re not going to prosecute and incarcerate dangerous violent offenders, this behavior will continue and it will likely escalate,” Hopkins said.

In CPD’s 18th District, murders are up 100% and shootings are up 53% from a year ago.

In all, crime is up 71% in the district, including burglaries, theft, robberies, sexual assaults and motor vehicle thefts.

Israel’s email said the association’s leadership team has been “meeting to discuss” the crisis and that its leaders “understand that extraordinary measures are necessary to respond to extraordinary circumstances.”

He did not elaborate.

That River North shooting occurred around 1 a.m. in the 400 block of North State Street, the same block where two men were wounded in a drive-by shooting just two weeks ago.

Chicago Police Department officers at the scene of a shooting in River North early Sunday morning.

Chicago Police Department officers at the scene of a shooting in River North early Sunday morning. A witness told police someone in a white sedan opened fire while headed south on State Street, wounding three men and a woman.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A little over 24 hours later, a man was wounded in a shootout with five gunmen who confronted him in a South Loop parking lot early Monday, minutes after carjackers struck a woman and stole her car less than a mile away.

Hopkins noted five of the seven weekend shooting victims in the 18th District had “multiple felony convictions for violent crimes in their recent history.”

That shows “a relatively limited population of offenders who are engaging in these violent crimes downtown over and over again with little or no consequence,” Hopkins said.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) whose ward also covers part of the central city, could not be reached for comment on the latest incidents.

The latest shooting happened around 3:40 a.m. Monday in the 1100 block of Delano Court, police said. A man had pulled in to a parking lot, followed by a black Jeep and a white sedan.

Five people, all armed with handguns, approached the man, who was a concealed-carry holder and pulled out his own gun, police said. There was an exchange of gunfire, and the five attackers ran back to their cars and sped off.

The concealed-carry holder was shot in the leg and grazed in the head and was taken in good condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, police said.

Minutes earlier, a woman was standing with a friend in the 700 block of South Wells Street when a black Jeep approached and three people got out and demanded their property, police said. One of the attackers hit the woman, 48, in the head, and the robbers then took off in her Chrysler 300.

Police would not say whether the attacks were related. No arrests have been made.

Both incidents occurred in the 1st Police District, where crime is up 111% over last year, including a 136% increase in motor vehicle theft, a 155% increase in theft and an 82% increase in robbery. Shootings are up 33% in the district and homicides are up 167%, according to Chicago Police Department data.

In Sunday’s River North shooting, a witness told police someone in a white sedan opened fire while headed south on State Street, wounding three men and a woman.

A 29-year-old man, hit in the neck, jaw and chest, was taken in critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital; a 40-year-old woman shot in the leg and knee was transported to the hospital in fair condition; a 41-year-old man suffered a graze wound to the leg and was taken to the hospital in good condition: and a 27-year-old man shot in the foot was taken to Stroger Hospital in good condition.

In an email to her constituents on Monday, Lincoln Park Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) reported that two juveniles — ages 14 and 17 — had been arrested after license plate technology identified them as allegedly having taken “a vehicle by force” from a 40-year-old woman at around 11 a.m. Sunday in an alley in the 2200 block of North Orchard Street.

Smith noted the most recent carjacking “continues the epidemic of serious juvenile crime that is plaguing our city.”

“We are aware of six arrests of juveniles in our ward along in the past month for serious crimes, including four carjackings. This is outrageous,” Smith wrote.

“That is why, in addition to doing all we can to promote activities and other interventions to try and keep kids on the right path, there must be disincentives. We’ll be writing more soon about actions to be taken.”

Hopkins, arguing that Cook County jail is “half empty while crime is soaring, said: “All of these carjackers preying on the North Side right now — they’re not in prison. And their records suggests they should be. Every night, someone is a victim. The next victim of a violent robbery on the North Side is out there walking around unaware that they’re gonna be the next victim.”

But while Hopkins directed most of his anger and frustration at Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, he did not let the mayor off the hook.

“She has no plan to solve this. She’s silent. She doesn’t address it. She doesn’t acknowledge it. The ward that I represent is being terrorized on a nightly basis by violent young men with guns. And she hasn’t said a word about it. And right now, she’s out of town. Doesn’t even seem to care,” said Hopkins, considering a run for mayor himself.

“She’s an absolute failure. She’s failing the city. She’s failing innocent people who are trying to live their lives. And in the long-term, this is unsustainable for a society.”

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