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After another violent Chicago weekend, top cop says: ‘We can only do so much’

Police work the scene where two teens were found dead with gunshot wounds in Golden Gate field Monday Aug. 20, 2018 in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
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Even with 600 more officers on the street, nearly as many people were shot in Chicago over the weekend as earlier this month, when a spike in violence prompted the boost in deployment.

At least 58 people were shot in the city from late Friday afternoon through early Monday, and seven of them were killed.

They included two boys, 16 and 17, found shot in death in a Far South Side field days after their mothers reported them missing; three men wounded during what witnesses said was a peace picnic at the Near North Side’s Seward Park; a woman and four men hit by gunfire hours after a Sunday afternoon softball game near a South Side grade school; and seven shot Friday evening in West Englewood, including a 3-year-old boy hit in the shin.

Two weekends ago, at least 74 people were shot. On that Sunday, Aug. 5, more people were shot in a single day since at least September 2011, when the Chicago Tribune began tracking every shooting in Chicago. At least 47 were hit by gunfire, 40 of them during a seven-hour period.

The bloodshed brought demands from community leaders for action, and the city responded by sending in more than 600 extra police to neighborhoods hardest hit by the violence.

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A clearly frustrated Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson acknowledged Monday that his department “can only do so much.”

“Crime isn’t just about what the police do,” he said at a news conference at police headquarters to talk about the weekend violence. “Crime is about what the criminals do.

“Let’s not forget the police aren’t the ones out there doing it. We can only do so much,” Johnson continued. “We cannot be on every street corner … every moment of the day. We just can’t. That’s an impossibility. It’s unreasonable. There’s no police department in this country that can do that.”

Someone was shot in nearly every police district this past weekend, a Tribune analysis shows.

The hardest hit were on the South Side: at least nine shot in Englewood, another nine in Grand Crossing, five in Calumet and Chicago Lawn, four in Deering.

On the West Side, five were shot in the Harrison District, which has been one of the most violent areas of the city this year, according to Tribune data.

Johnson called the violence tragic, senseless and cowardly, and said he shares the “anger and frustration that many families are having today.”

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As he has repeatedly done in the past, Johnson called for tougher punishment for those charged with gun crimes.

“The truth is, and I know you all are tired of hearing me say it, but as long as we fail to create repercussions for carrying and using illegal guns, or more importantly, hold repeat violent offenders accountable for their actions, we’re simply going to continue to have these discussions on Monday mornings,” Johnson said.

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© 2018 Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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