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At least 42 people shot in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. ‘Unacceptable state of affairs,’ new mayor says

Police investigate the scene at a gas station on the 5400 block of West Diversey, where a a male, 25, was shot in the face when a male offender approached on foot and fired shots in Chicago's Cragin neighborhood Friday, May 24, 2019. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

At least 42 people were shot, five fatally, in Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend even as severe storms kept people indoors and 1,200 extra officers patrolled the streets.

The toll was slightly higher than last year’s Memorial Day weekend, when 39 people were shot, seven of them fatally, according to shooting data kept by the Tribune. In 2017, 45 people were shot, seven of them killed. And in 2016 71 people were shot, six of them fatally, in one of the most violent Memorial Day weekends in recent years.

“That is just an unacceptable state of affairs,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters following a Monday ceremony at a Grant Park monument to commemorate the nation’s war dead.

The new mayor said she rode with officers Saturday night and responded with them to a shooting on the South Side. She also spoke of the frequency she receives emailed notifications of shootings.

“I certainly knew that before, but to see it graphically depicted is quite shocking and says that we’ve got a long way to go as a city,” she said. “This is not a law enforcement-only challenge. It’s a challenge for all of us in city government. It’s a challenge for us in communities to dig down deeper and ask ourselves what we can do to step up to stem the violence.”

Repeating a main talking point of police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Lightfoot said a critical part of the city’s strategy is getting illegal guns off the streets by focusing on gun traffickers, convicted felons carrying guns and those who have their firearm ownership cards revoked.

The message must be clear that picking up a gun is not how to resolve disputes, she said. “For those who think it is, we can give them no quarter, they can have no sanctuary in our city,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure we flood these areas with a lot more resources.”

The long weekend is typically one of the busiest for the Chicago Police Department, which cancelled days off for many officers. In addition to extra patrols, Chicago police made drug raid throughout the city leading up to the weekend.

Since 3 p.m. Friday, the shootings stretched as far south as Roseland and as far north as West Rogers Park. But much of the violence was concentrated in parts of the South and West sides that have long struggled with poverty, gangs and drugs.

On Saturday, 13 people were shot and two of them were killed: 43-year-old Tito Wade, who was shot in the 400 block of West 77th Street in the South Side’s Greater Grand Crossing community, and 31-year-old Michael Brown, shot in the 100 block of West 109th Place in the Roseland community on the Far South Side.

Sunday saw the worst of the weekend violence, with 18 people shot. Eight of them were wounded in two shootings just five hours apart on the same block on the Near West Side.

Around 1:30 a.m., John Benford, 27, was killed and two others were injured at the ABLA Homes in the 1300 block of West Hastings Street. Around 6 a.m., five more people were shot on the same block, two of them fatally. Killed were Antonio Green, 28, and Martez Cox, 27.

In the second shooting, Tevin Covens, 25, was shot in the face by Antonio Green, 28, who also shot and killed another man, 27-year-old Martez Cox, after Cox fired a TEC-9 machine pistol into the air, according to police. Covens, also armed, opened fire on Green, killing him, police said.

But shot fired by Covens also hit two women, according to chief police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

Covens was not charged with murder because he fired in self-defense, Guglielmi said, and the women did not want to press charges.

Covens was only charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm and not aggravated battery with a firearm, which is a more serious crime, because the female victims did not want to press charges. He was only charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm.

A second man, Lawrence Wilkins, 29, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon after police found him carrying a gun at the scene, authorities said.

In other weekend violence, a man exchanged gunfire with police Saturday night in the 1100 block of South Whipple Street, just north of Douglas Park on the West Side, authorities said. The man was reported in critical condition at a hospital. A gun was recovered at the scene and no officers were hurt, according to authorities.

Verona Gunn, in her 80s, died in a traffic crash involving two Chicago police vehicles Saturday night in the Austin community on the West Side. About a dozen other people were injured in the collision, including 10 Chicago police officers.


(Chicago Tribune’s Todd Lighty, Rosemary Sobol and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas contributed.)


© 2019 Chicago Tribune

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