Our Pledge To You

Crime

Chicago’s 2018 murder total falls for second straight year but still tops 530

Shooting scene in Chicago

Chicago police at one of the crime scenes from the weekend of Aug. 3-6. | Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times

Two teen boys walking through Bronzeville.

A 12-year-old girl from Michigan visiting her father in West Garfield Park.

Two Chicago Police officers who ran toward danger, one in the Loop and the other at a South Side hospital.

Infants in Little Village and Hermosa.

A great-grandmother in her Park Manor apartment.

They are just a few of the more than 530 people murdered in Chicago in 2018, with victims ranging in age from 1 to 93.

And while the city’s violence still grips large swaths, especially on the South and West sides, shooting and murder totals fell for the second consecutive year, according to statistics from the Chicago Police Department and Cook County medical examiner’s office.

As of Dec. 25, the medical examiner had declared 539 deaths in Chicago in 2018 as homicides. The Sun-Times has counted 542 murders in Chicago in 2018 as of Dec. 25. The Chicago Police Department has said 555 people have been murdered in the city as of Dec. 23.

A death classified as a homicide by the medical examiner’s office does not mean it will be considered a murder by Chicago Police. For example, the man who shot and killed three people at Mercy Hospital last year was himself shot at killed by a Chicago Police officer. His death, though ruled a homicide, is not considered a murder by police.

The CPD figure also does not include murders on city expressways, which fall under the jurisdiction of Illinois State Police, or killings deemed justified by CPD investigators, as in cases of self defense.

“The ongoing reductions in violent crime were achieved in large part due to strengthened community partnerships, investments in data-driven policing and the creation of the strategic decision support centers in 20 of the city’s 22 police districts,” a CPD statement issued Friday evening read.

The city saw 664 murders in 2017 and a staggering 781 a year earlier. And while 2018 saw far fewer murders than those years, the city is still outpacing the totals of 2014 and 2015.

CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson has on many occasions called the city’s entrenched gun violence “unacceptable.” Last year, Johnson said he thought it’s “a reasonable goal” to see the city log fewer than 300 murders in a year.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson speaks at a press conference at 78th and Halsted following a violent weekend in Chicago on Aug. 6, 2018. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

As of Dec. 23, according to the CPD, the city recorded 2,355 “shooting incidents” as compared to the 2,750 that occurred in the same time span in 2017. A single “shooting incident,” though, can have more than one victim.

The largest drop-offs in shooting totals were seen in the Ogden and Austin districts on the West and Southwest sides. In 2017, those districts combined to see 491 shooting incidents. This year, their combined total was 352 as of Dec. 23.

Seven of the CPD’s 22 police districts accounted for more than half of all shootings in the city in 2018. Of those seven — all of which are on the South and West sides and include the Ogden and Austin districts — the Harrison District saw the most gun violence by a wide margin, with 340 reported shooting incidents in 2018 as of Dec. 23.

The next highest shooting incident total of any district was 193, logged by the Calumet District on the Far South Side. There were 160 shooting incidents in the district in 2017.

Calumet District officers have been hit especially hard by tragedy this year. Earlier this month, officers Conrad Gary and Eduardo Marmolejo were killed when they were hit by a train near 103rd and Cottage Grove as they were investigating a call of shots fired.

Two officers took their own lives in the district’s parking lot, and another officer collapsed and died in the station this year.

According to the medical examiner’s office, well over half of Chicago’s homicide victims in 2018 — 318 people — were black males between 16 and 41 years old.

The CPD heavily credited its partnerships with federal law enforcement agencies — the DEA, ATF, FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office — with the drop in shootings from 2017. The department went on to note that more than 9,500 illegal guns were recovered in 2018, the most in a single year since 2013.