Much of the rise in violence can be linked to gang conflict over territory and drug dealing as well as easy access to illegal guns. There are deeper societal problems, though, including long histories of poverty, racism, a neglect by the city in some of the more crime-ridden neighborhoods, and a distrust of police.
Chasity, who did not want to give her last name, looks out of the shattered window of her home near the scene of a shooting in the 500 block of North Springfield Avenue Saturday, June 4, 2016, in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. She said a bullet came through the glass but only shattered the outer pane of the two-pane window. Many residents, including Chasity, whose young son was sleeping upstairs at the time of the shooting, talk of leaving the city. For low-income families, though, this is not always an option. 202 people were shot and 29 killed in her neighborhood in 2016.
Rain pours down as Chicago police officers work at the scene of a fatal shooting in the 5900 block of West Thomas Street Friday, June 16, 2017, in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. 17-year-old Ahmadd Smith was shot and killed at the scene.
Paramedics prepare to transport a gunshot victim in the 4500 block of West Jackson Boulevard Saturday, August 6, 2016, in the West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. A 19-year-old man was shot in the thigh and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital.
Metallic star-shaped balloons, empty liquor bottles and a makeshift cross reflect blue police lights near where a 20-year-old man was shot inside a vehicle in June 2016 in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago.
A Chicago Police officer works in his car at a fatal shooting in the 700 block of North Ridgeway Avenue Sunday, June 26, 2016, in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. There were more than 100 people on the block celebrating a birthday party when 55-year-old Wondale Collier was shot multiple times and later died at Mount Sinai Hospital. At least 50 people stayed at the crime scene as police looked for shell casings among the empty bottles and plastic cups.
Heavy snow falls as Chicago Police officers work the scene of a shooting in the 7200 block of South Sangamon Street Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Officers were driving down the block Wednesday night, checking out a report about shots fired, when a man ran up and told them, “They just got my gramma.” 72-year-old Emagene Jackson was shot in the chest and wrist and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center where she recovered.
A bicyclist passes by as Chicago Police officers work the scene of a fatal shooting in the 2900 block of West Armitage Avenue Friday, June 3, 2016, in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. A 20-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene and a 21-year-old man was shot in the right leg and taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital.
The mother of Kennatay Leavell kneels over his body outside a group of row houses in the 500 block of West Iowa Street Friday, July 28, 2017, in the Cabrini Green neighborhood of Chicago. The 31-year-old was shot multiple times in the face and died at the scene. Family members had been watching for an hour, held back from Leavell’s then-uncovered body by police tape and officers, when his mother eventually found a way through one of the Cabrini Green apartments. “My baby,” she cried as she struggled to hold him close to her. “My baby.”
Rain falls on a car with police tape at the scene where 32-year-old Dario Balderrama was shot multiple times and killed in the 4800 block of South Racine Avenue Saturday, June 17, 2017, in the Back of Yards neighborhood of Chicago. About an hour later, two men and one woman were shot and taken to area hospitals less than a mile away on 44th Street. Both incidents involved rifles.
Paramedics work on a Devon D. Reavley, 24, at the scene of a fatal double shooting in Ogden Park Monday, Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2016, in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Chicago Fire Department paramedics tried to resuscitate Reavley but got no response. Both he and another man were killed in the park. Shootings increase over holiday weekends when people are off work, children are out of school and many are outdoors in the warm weather. 46 people were shot and 13 people were killed over Labor Day weekend in 2016.
A man clings to a woman near the body of a gunshot victim laying in the grass at a fatal double shooting in Ogden Park Monday, Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2016, in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. The 47-year-old man was walking his dog in the crowded park as people celebrated the holiday when shots were fired from a vehicle and he was struck in the chest.
A Chicago Police officer stands next the body of Paul Hamilton, 47, at the scene of a fatal double shooting in Ogden Park Monday, Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2016, in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Lacoah Curtis, who was grilling in the park with her family nearby, packed up food and picnic supplies as the sun set and police told people the park was closed. An officer shined his flashlight so she could see better. Curtis grew up in the area but hasn’t been to a barbecue in a park in 10 or so years because she fears shootings. When she was in high school, she said, someone who wanted to kill someone else went and found that person, and shot them. But now, “people don’t care about shooting into a crowded park” and hitting innocent bystanders.
An evidence marker sits next to a rifle casing at the scene of a fatal shooting in the 4500 block of South Hermitage Avenue Monday, Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2016, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago. 44-year-old Albertano Medrano was shot by people in a white van while standing on South Hermitage Avenue waiting for his family. Police tape cordoned off an entire block along Hermitage and several high-caliber rifle casings littered the street. Residents of the neighborhood got permission from officers to duck under the tape to go to and from their homes while children played in the water spraying from a fire hydrant. A vehicle matching the description of the white van crashed nearby, and two men ran from the scene and tried to pitch a weapon in a clothing donation bin in the parking lot of a gas station. The two fled. Later, they were taken into custody and a rifle was recovered, police said.
Judy Fields, grandmother of 18-year-old Treja A. Kelley, who was shot and killed on her block while pregnant on September 8, sits on her porch in the 5200 block of South Sangamon Street Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago. Kelley had taken the stand nearly three months ago and testified against the man accused of killing her cousin, Christopher Fields. The man was convicted and is awaiting sentencing. It happened around the corner, on a block of bungalows, wood-frame homes and three-flats where Kelley and her cousin grew up. When Kelley lost her cousin, she did what many witnesses to Chicago’s gun violence are too terrified to do: She identified the gunman for police shortly after the shooting and then had the courage to testify for the prosecution. People gathered at a nonviolence event organized by several different groups in response to the fatal shooting of Kelley.
A Chicago Police officer speaks sternly to a man and woman dressed in costume at the scene of a shooting in the 7500 block of South Morgan Street Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in the Gresham neighborhood of Chicago. Halloween weekend, which saw unusually warm weather, was the deadliest weekend in all of 2016. Although police resources were increased to provide crowd control around Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs’ home World Series games, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the department was not short-handed in the South and West Side neighborhoods where most of the violence took place. The department cancelled days off and required mandatory 12-hour shifts for all officers. An officer on duty at a double homicide in the Back of the Yards neighborhood over the weekend, who wished to remain anonymous, complained about the long hours and last-minute notification. He gestured to a vehicle covered in a sheet behind him where two people lay dead: “Obviously it doesn’t always help.” 42 people were wounded and 17 people were killed between Friday and Monday over Halloween, pushing the number of homicides for the year past 600.
Ponchita Moore stands on the Metra tracks with other protesters in the 7100 block of South Jeffrey Avenue after the release of videos showing the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Paul O’Neal by a Chicago police officer Friday, August 5, 2016, in Chicago. O’Neal was shot and killed by an officer during a car-jacking in July. Dash and body cam footage shows officers firing at the fleeing Jaguar police said was stolen while other officers appear to be in the line of fire. The videos then show officers chasing O’Neal on foot but do not show the fatal shot. The officer said he fired on O’Neal after he saw him reaching into his waistband. Reports said his body camera did not capture this part of the event. The Chicago Police Department and its procedures have been under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department since the release of a video showing a white officer shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, sparking protests and an overhaul of street stop procedures. Some veteran officers claim cops are dispirited and have slowed down on proactive policing that can remove a gun or criminal from the street. All officers are now required to wear body cameras.
A group of young men taunts Chicago Police officers at the scene of a shooting in the 7100 block of South Paulina Street Friday, August 26, in the West Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. One young person called a black officer a “traitor” while another filmed with a cell phone camera. “We got you on camera, fool,” he said. One person was detained after ducking under police tape but was later released. As the group grew more aggressive, officers drew their tasers and pushed them back from the scene. “Y’all taking this seriously. We’re just playing,” said one young man. Later, after the group dispersed, several gunshots rang out from a nearby alley, prompting two officers to run toward the sounds with their hands on their weapons. No one was shot.
Three women hold each other as they sit on the ground at the scene of a fatal double shooting in the 5400 block of South Wabash Avenue Thursday, June 29, 2017, in the Washington Park neighborhood of Chicago. 32-year-old Jeanine Dowell and 41-year-old Juliet Washington were driving north when shots were fired from another vehicle, striking both women in the head. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Willis Tower and other downtown buildings can be seen beyond police tape at the scene of a shooting in the 1200 block of South Union Avenue Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in the University Village neighborhood of Chicago. A 17-year-old male was in the back seat of a vehicle when he was shot in the chest. The driver fled and ended up in the 1800 block of South Calumet Avenue.
A Chicago Police officer puts out kibble for a cat at the scene of a shooting in the 7100 block of South Paulina Street Friday, August 26, in the West Englewood neighborhood of Chicago.
Chicago Police officers push people back from the scene of a fatal shooting in the 3600 block of West Fifth Avenue Sunday, August 28, 2016, in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. After 38-year-old Omar Kent was shot in the head, several dozen people gathered in the otherwise quiet, darkened street. Screams and cries could be heard as people arrived at the scene. A few people attempted to duck under the police tape and run to Kent’s body, his head resting in a puddle of water and covered by a white sheet. “You don’t want to remember him this way,” one officer repeated.
Mattie McClinton sways her arms and calls out during a tent revival service at Union Missionary Baptist Church Thursday, July 21, 2016, in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. Pastor Raymond Hillman helped organize the revival in response to violence in the area. Much of it can be linked to gang conflict over territory and drug dealing as well as easy access to illegal guns. There are deeper societal problems, though, including long histories of poverty and neglect by the city in some of the more crime-ridden neighborhoods. 34-year-old Lanarris Webster was shot and killed less than two blocks from the church the previous month.
Victor Betancourt, 6, looks at letters and photos left by schoolmates of his uncle, 13-year-old Leonardo Betancourt, who was shot and killed while driving with friends in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, at William H. Seward Communication Arts Academy Elementary School Wednesday, May 4, 2016, in Chicago. Two older people in the SUV were gang members, according to police, but said Leo had no arrest record and was not in a gang. His family, including Victor, who he walked to school most days, visited the school after the shooting to collect letters, poems and drawings written by Leo’s classmates. One student wrote, “I remember those long hate paragraphs we sent each other. I never meant it and I know you know I didn’t mean it. I said I’d buy you chips on Tuesday, but, I couldn’t because, you know. I hope you’re in a better place. That’s what everybody is saying.” The family left Chicago several months later.
People hold hands in prayer during a community gathering in the 5700 block of South Morgan Street Thursday, July 7, 2016 in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. CAPS, the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, aims to bring members of the department and members of the community together to discuss and potentially solve crimes in neighborhoods across the city. Regular meetings are held in the different police districts and are open to the public. After a four-year-old boy was shot in the back in Englewood in July, CAPS helped organize a gathering on the block. Several officers stood in a circle and held hands with people in the neighborhood and said a prayer to end violence. One preacher spoke: “Even though our presence is necessary here on the corner, as we come together, God, we still want to believe with all that is in us that your presence is always here. God, as we come together as a community to strategize, to listen, to live, to love, God, remind us most of all that you have called us to love you and to love one another…Teach us to love beyond all of our differences, beyond our different backgrounds and our different mindsets. Teach us to love one another the way you have loved us.”