The families and friends wait outside Stroger Hospital Sunday morning. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Dozens shot over weekend, five dead

SHARE Dozens shot over weekend, five dead
SHARE Dozens shot over weekend, five dead

A total of 34 people were shot — five of whom died — during a 24-hour stretch from Saturday morning into Sunday morning that was one of the most violent in recent city memory, according to Chicago police.

The shootings, concentrated on the West and South sides, took place between 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday.

The heaviest amount of violence took place between midnight and 3 a.m., when 30 people were shot. Five mass shootings, in which three or more people were shot, accounted for 25 of the shooting victims during the three-hour span.

A single shooting in the Gresham neighborhood wounded eight people, including four teenage girls.

“I promise this city that we won’t be defeated,” Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Fred Waller said during a news conference held Sunday afternoon at police headquarters. “We won’t be overrun by that small element that’s committing these reckless acts.”

Waller said much of the violence is being traced back to gangs.

“It’s one of our most violent weekends, there’s no question about that,” police spokesman Tom Ahern said.

Waller said the uptick in violence cannot be attributed to police resources being diverted to the Lollapalooza music festival.

Officers working Lollapalooza were on their regular days off and received overtime pay, he said. “So they’re not people who would have been on the street anyway, so we’re not losing any resources to Lollapalooza,” Waller said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was downtown Sunday to announce plans for improvements to the Riverwalk, was not at the news conference. Police Supt. Eddie Johnson also was not in attendance.

The aftermath of many of the shootings played out inside and outside the emergency room at Stroger Hospital where extended members and friends were prevented from entering as the staff dealt with the influx of trauma patients.

Visitation was limited to immediate family members, leaving dozens of people to mill about the parking lot outside the emergency room, where the sounds of crying, wailing and yelling could be heard every few minutes. Tempers occasionally flared. Nearly two dozen police officers huddled near the entrance to the hospital.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said one law enforcement officer stationed outside the hospital who’s seen similar scenes play out over two decades.

“It’s hot right now. There’s a lot of tension,” said the officer, who asked not to be named. “And it might get worse because you can hear people talking about revenge, saying on their cellphones ‘I know know who did it. You get him.’ ”

About a half hour later, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis showed up at the parking lot to offer comfort to people, many of whom are constituents.

“We continue to try to develop enough resources to prevent these kind of incidents from happening,” Davis told reporters, expressing frustration with a lack of government funding for programs that could prevent street violence.

“I’ll be willing to bet that many of the people who are here right now to express concern are also unemployed, don’t have jobs, are frustrated in terms of daily living,” he said.

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