After another jarring weekend of gun violence in Chicago left 18 people dead — including three children — and 47 others wounded, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown announced Monday that 1,200 additional officers will hit the streets for the historically violent Fourth of July weekend.
Starting Thursday, the surge in officers will be deployed in “hot spots” for violence, according to Brown. Acknowledging “tired cops make mistakes,” he said every officer on duty over the weekend will get a day off.
Brown started his news conference at CPD headquarters by decrying the “evil bastards behind those guns who caused the senseless loss of life this past weekend.”
“When we have young, innocent lives lost . . . we all need to be outraged — all of us — by this violence,” Brown said.
“We’re all part of the city. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the violence here.”
In a news conference later in the day, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said what causes her the “greatest heartache” as a mother, mayor and human being is “seeing our babies killed.”
As police asked for the public’s help in solving the spate of recent shootings, CPD Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan told reporters detectives have identified vehicles that may have been used in those killings.
One victim, a 20-month-old boy identified as Sincere Gaston, was shot Saturday afternoon while riding home from a laundromat with his mother, who also was wounded in the attack. Gaston’s father appeared to be the intended target because he often drove the same car, Deenihan noted, adding that investigators are searching for a gray or silver Infiniti sedan with an Illinois temporary tag that “could possibly be the suspect vehicle.” The car was last seen headed north on Wentworth Avenue from 63rd Street after the shooting.
Deenihan added that Lena Nunez, a 10-year-old girl fatally struck by a stray bullet hours later in Logan Square, appears to have been shot by a gang member targeting rivals from almost a block away.
“So once again, it’s gang-on-gang violence. It’s outdoors. It’s shooting with a handgun,” said Deenihan, adding that detectives have identified a “suspect vehicle” in that shooting, as well, though he offered no details.
Beefing up patrols during historically violent holiday weekends — Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day — is a favored CPD tactic.
In 2019, the department deployed an extra 1,500 officers over the Fourth of July weekend. Five people were killed and another 63 wounded by gunfire over the holiday weekend last year.
The year before, the CPD sent out an extra 1,500 cops. The holiday weekend ended with six killed and 66 people injured in shootings.
In 2017, the department deployed an extra 1,300 officers over the Fourth of July weekend. The Fourth fell on a Tuesday that year, and more than 100 people were shot — 14 fatally — over the especially long holiday weekend.
With the forecast this weekend calling for sunny skies and high temperatures in the 80s, police likely will have their hands full.
Along with extra patrols, the department also typically conducts a series of narcotics and gun raids just before holiday weekends. Department officials have said the goal of those raids is to ensure those most likely to be involved in violence — as either shooter or victim — are locked up over the holiday.
Brown urged the public to identify shooters or offer any other information that might help police solve fatal shootings.
“Silence emboldens, empowers those who continue to terrorize our neighborhoods,” he said.
“Now is the time to stand up and say, enough is enough. . . . For God’s sake, for the sake of Chicago’s children . . . I am pleading. Please help us bring these murderers to justice.’’
As Brown argued again for keeping more violent offenders locked up, he said police “need the help of the entire criminal justice system.” He claimed electronic monitoring can “endanger our residents” and negate “the hard work of our officers to take them off the streets.”
Though Brown just started in April — and continues to be told “you’re new here” — he insisted he “will never accept this level of violence.” It’s a very complex problem, Brown said, but he noted that solving it at the very least means that “we must keep violent offenders in jail.”
“I will continue to bring attention to the sheer number of repeat offenders who are given little to no jail time and low bonds and are placed on electronic monitoring that are not monitored and go on to commit more crime,” he said.
Brown singled out 19-year-old Laroy Battle, charged last week with fatally shooting two other teenagers this month at a gas station in Englewood. Battle was free on probation at the time of the attack after pleading guilty to a gun charge.
Brown said that specific gun charge — unlawful use of a weapon — is a “precursor to violence in Chicago,” adding that open-air drug markets are “the pipeline for shootings and murders.” He said “evil masterminds” controlling the drug trade place younger individuals on drug corners specifically because they don’t have criminal backgrounds.
“Our end game is arrests for the precursors to violence. So every day we’re going to be clearing corners,” said Brown, who pleaded with “the court system to keep them in jail for the weekend.”
Lightfoot said she already had met with State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Timothy Evans, chief judge of Cook County Circuit Court, to discuss “how we can do a better job collaborating” to stop the violence.
Brown had to leave Chicago for part of the weekend on an impromptu trip to Texas after his mother tested positive Friday for COVID-19. Police spokesman Howard Ludwig said Brown spent a little more than a day in his hometown of Dallas, visiting with his mother through a window.
While gone, Brown stayed “in constant communication with his leadership team and worked closely with them and the armed command staff to coordinate deployments and staffing,” Ludwig said.
Contributing: Fran Spielman