More murders in Chicago last year than NYC & LA combined


An argument between two men at an Uptown bar in the early hours of Jan. 1 ended with the two shooting at one another, leaving both dead.

Their deaths ushered in the new year, marking the first and second homicides of 2017 and keeping up 2016’s pace of violence – levels that haven’t marred the city for 20 years.

By the time police were dispatched to the double homicide at 4:30 a.m. there had already been an officer-involved shooting, according to Chicago police. A man who led police on a car chase, before physically resisting arrest, ultimately was shot by an officer before 3 a.m. That man, whose name was not released and for whom a warrant was issued, was in critical condition Sunday.

The last homicide in 2016 came before 1 p.m. Saturday when a 24-year-old, whose name has not been released, was killed in South Austin in a possible road rage act that may have been retaliation for hitting another driver’s Mercedes. According to data from the Chicago Police Department, his death became the 762nd homicide for the year – the most since 1996, when there were 796.

Data kept by the Chicago Tribune tallied at least 781 homicides for the year; the Police Department statistics do not include killings on area expressways, police-involved shootings, other homicides in which a person was killed in self-defense or death investigations.

At the double homicide scene on Broadway Street near Wilson Avenue, a fire official said first responders found a 38-year-old man with gunshot wounds to the chest and right leg, as well as a second man, 25, who had multiple gunshot wounds to his right side. Both men were taken by ambulance to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where they later were pronounced dead, officials said.

There were nine homicides in Uptown in 2016, according to data kept by the Tribune. There were 45 violent crimes in Uptown in September 2016, the most for the area by month since 49 in September 2008, community data show.

Statistics for the city as a whole have been grim enough to receive national attention and to compell the police department to make public its plan for combatting crime this year.

"2016 saw an unacceptable rise in violence, beginning at the outset of the year," said Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department.

At a news conference at police headquarters, Superintendent Eddie Johnson lamented the gun violence that ensnared the city’s West and South sides, casting much of the blame on “anti-police sentiment,” and the judicial system’s lax sentencing guidelines for repeat gun offenders.

“In many instances, the individuals who chose to pull the trigger are repeat gun offenders emboldened by the national climate against law enforcement and willing to test the limits of our criminal justice system,” Johnson said. “… These emboldened criminals are responsible for destroying families and communities as well as dozens of attacks on Chicago police officers in 2016.”

Johnson attempted to snuff out the notion that the skyrocketing violence could be attributed to a lack of effort by police, citing a 10 percent increase in gun-related arrests and 20 percent more gun recoveries in 2016.

“I still get on the street quite a bit, I’ll still talk to gang members,” Johnson said. “Almost every one I talk to will say, ‘I knew it was wrong. But I still chose to do it.’ The mentality that you’d rather CPD to catch you with a gun than your rival to catch you without it, that’s Bizarro World. It shouldn’t be like that. We should have a culture where everyone is accountable.”

Johnson said he was optimistic 2017 will be a safer year for Chicago, pointing to several new policing initiatives, including the rollout of data-driven command centers in violence-plagued Englewood District and Harrison District later this month.

CPD has installed 44 new surveillance cameras across the two districts that police plan to use in tandem with gunfire detection technology, which already allows them to discover shootings on average 5 minutes faster than a typical 911 call.

With these new innovations, deputy police chiefs in these districts will be able to better understand gun violence and alter policing strategies to better combat it, Johnson said.

He also stressed the importance of renewed community engagement, vowing to assign officers to work with community leaders to address quality of life issues. CPD also intends to hire 970 new officers over two years, including roughly 500 in 2017, Johnson said.

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