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Another violent Memorial Day weekend: More shot, fewer killed

Sun-Times file photo

It could have been even worse — cold comfort to the families of the four people killed and at least 53 wounded by gunfire over the 72-hour Memorial Day weekend in Chicago.

Chicago’s grim holiday body count this year included a 15-year-old girl, Veronica Lopez, who was fatally shot when someone in a car opened fire on a Jeep she was riding in early Saturday on Lake Shore Drive. The Jeep’s driver, who was grazed in the head and wounded in the arm, is a felon, police said.

Hours earlier, Mark Lindsey, 25, was in a parked car when he was fatally shot by someone on foot on the Southwest Side. Another 25-year-old man, Damien Cionzynski, was shot to death Saturday morning during a quarrel at a Northwest Side gas station. And a 27-year-old gang member was fatally shot Saturday afternoon on the South Side, police said.

Dozens of nonfatal shootings — most of which happened on the West Side — continued through Monday, police said.

The number of nonfatal shootings this Memorial Day was higher than last year: at least 53 wounded versus 43. But more people were killed over the holiday last year: 12.

In recent years, Chicago has experienced much of the same violence and tragedy at the unofficial start of summer.

In 2012, one post-Memorial Day headline called the bloodshed during that year’s holiday weekend “a genocide.” Forty-five were wounded and a dozen were killed.

Last year, the Chicago Sun-Times editorialized that “we can find a way together to stop gun violence” after that year’s holiday shooting spree.

This year, the Chicago Police Department marshaled thousands of officers — supplemented by hundreds who volunteered for overtime duty — to quell the violence. The department has lost thousands of full-time officers to attrition in recent years and makes up for that manpower shortage with OT initiatives during such warm weather holidays when shootings are anticipated.

This year, extra officers were concentrated on the West Side — where at least 19 nonfatal shootings occurred — and on Lake Shore Drive where Diana was shot to death.

The department’s message following the shootings and killings this Memorial Day focused on the need for tougher gun laws — another common thread in recent years.

Using computer analysis, the department estimates from 1,300 to 1,500 people in Chicago commit most of the gun violence, and many of them have been arrested for gun crimes without serious punishment in the justice system.

With year-to-date murder and nonfatal shooting totals that far exceed last year’s in Chicago, the police department and the Emanuel administration are now bracing for summer.