CHICAGO — At least 14 people were killed and dozens more wounded in Chicago over the holiday weekend, breaking a relative lull in a city that has been fighting a high-profile battle against the scourge of gun violence.
Chicago has been under scrutiny since 2012, when it was the only city in the nation to record more than 500 homicides. This year, Chicago had 172 homicides through June 30 — nine fewer than the same period last year and 82 fewer than during the first six months of 2012.
While homicides are slightly down, shooting incidents have increased in Chicago during the first half of this year. Police reported 833 shooting incidents at the end of June 2013 compared with 880 shootings as of June 29. The 14 killed over the holiday weekend are among 82 shot in Chicago from late Thursday to early Monday morning.
"Going into a holiday weekend like this, we obviously had a plan— [the] plan included putting hundreds of more officers on the streets at the times that we needed them and in the places we needed them," said Chicago Police superintendent Garry McCarthy. "What were the results? The results were a lot of shootings and a lot of murders, unfortunately."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made reducing violence a top priority for his administration. Over the holiday weekend, Chicago police beefed up patrols, and McCarthy said police seized more than 100 illegal guns.
Most of this weekend's incidents were on the city's west and south sides, areas that suffer a disproportionate amount of Chicago's gun violence. But one shooting incident ended not far from the doorstep of Emanuel, who lives in a leafy neighborhood on Chicago's North Side.
In that incident, Kezon Lamb, 19, was killed when shots were fired at the vehicle he was driving in with two other people. After they were shot at, the trio sped away and tracked down a police officer about two blocks from the mayor's home, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Lamb was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Emanuel called the holiday gun violence "senseless" and "unacceptable." But he also said Chicago's problem is partly due to weaker gun laws in adjacent states as well a lack of will in Washington to address the issue.
"Where are the gun laws, so you have comprehensive background checks?" Emanuel said Monday. "While [Chicago is] providing record summer educational job opportunities and summer jobs, where is the federal [government] with assistance to expand that?"
The burst of violence came on the same weekend in which Chicago police officers were involved in eight shootings, including two that left civilians dead. In each incident, police said the civilians pointed guns at the officers. In three of the incidents, police officers were shot at by suspects, McCarthy said.
In one case on the city's South Side on Saturday night, police said they were responding to a call of "shots fired," when they came upon a 16-year-old boy holding a gun. Police officers chased the boy into a backyard, where they said the boy turned and pointed his weapon at the pursuing police officers. The boy was later identified as Warren Robinson.
"Fearing for their lives and the lives of their partners, officers discharged their weapons," police said in a statement.
In the second police-involved fatal shooting, police approached 14-year-old Pedro Rios when they spotted him "with an object protruding from his waistband." Rios ran when the officers approached and at some point in the pursuit the teen pointed a revolver at an officer, according to police.
As a result, the officer fired at the teen, police said.
McCarthy, a former New York city deputy commissioner, noted that he's often asked about the difference between fighting crime in the Big Apple and the Windy City.
"I can tell you very simply," McCarthy said. "The proliferation of firearms."