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Under the gun: 82 shot, 14 killed in Chicago

Since the start of the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, 82 people were shot and 14 were killed in the latest rash of gun violence in the city.
In this Sunday, July 6, 2014 photo, a man is wheeled on a stretcher after being shot in the leg on Chicago's South Side.
In this Sunday, July 6, 2014 photo, a man is wheeled on a stretcher after being shot in the leg on Chicago's South Side.

Updated at 5:40 p.m. EST to reflect new details on the total number of people shot during weekend violence in Chicago.

At least 82 people were shot, 14 fatally, in Chicago over the long holiday weekend that began last Thursday afternoon. Five were shot by police, including a pair of teenagers who were killed in separate episodes.

In one of the killings, police shot a suspected 16-year-old gunman who took officers on a foot chase before hiding under a parked car, where he was killed. In the other, police gunned down a 14-year old who allegedly aimed a large revolver at officers.

The shootings involving police represent just a fraction of the weekend’s violence. 

Between Thursday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at midnight, 67 people were shot and 11 were killed, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Several people were hit by stray bullets while sitting on their porches. A 66-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy both suffered graze wounds to the head in separate shootings and a 26-year-old man was struck multiple times in his body. He told police gunmen had approached him from an alley and then opened fire, according to NBC Chicago.

Despite a decline in murders and an overall dip in crime from the same time period last year and despite the efforts of the police and community groups, shootings remain an out-sized problem in Chicago. As of June 29, overall crime including murders, sexual assault and aggravated battery are down 15% from last year, according to the department’s most recently released crime statistics. Murders are down by 5% from last year, from 180 to 171, steadily dropping from record highs in 2012 when the city registered a nation-leading 516 murders.

But shootings incidents are currently up 6%, from 833 at this time last year to 880 this year, according to police.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the number of shootings and murders over the weekend “simply unacceptable.”

“The solution does not just include policing - although we'll continue to look for ways to put more police where they're needed. We also have to give our young people alternatives to the street, and as a community we need to demand more of ourselves and our neighbors,” Emanuel said in a statement. “This violence is unacceptable wherever it occurs in our city and all of us need to take a stand.  The only way we will meet this challenge to our future is to join with one another and create a partnership for peace."

Chicago police had been touting improved tactics like swarming so-called hot-spots with additional officers, a return to foot patrols and working harder on intelligence gathering and community relations. And for a time, the bolstered tactics seemed to be working, with crime numbers earlier this year tumbling from the year before. The need for a broader show of police force has been critical with the onset of summer, when hotter temperatures tend to bring more people out of their homes, creating an even riper environment for hostile interactions, violence and a higher likelihood of innocent bystanders becoming victims.

"We will keep building on our strategy, putting more officers on the street in summer months, proactively intervening in gang conflicts, partnering with community leaders," Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a statement.

Following this latest string of shootings, McCarthy called on stricter gun control laws and stiffer penalties for people caught with illegal weapons, sentiments he has echoed time and again along with Mayor Emanuel.

 "There's a greater sanction for the gang members to lose that firearm from their gang than there is to go to jail" for illegal gun possession, McCarthy told reporters.

Among the suspects in the weekend’s shootings were several with criminal records, including one man wanted in connection with a previous murder who has racked 21 prior arrests.

"There's too many guns coming in and too little punishment going out,” McCarthy said.

This weekend’s rash of gun violence is almost cliché at this point, with almost every holiday or long weekend in the city punctuated by bloodshed. 

This city, seemingly under the gun on the best of days, has struggled under the constant barrage of violence. The police have employed new strategies and tactics. Activists and parents in the neighborhoods hardest hit by gun violence have grown weary trying to rally support to fight back. So far, few efforts have showed much promise in tamping down the violence.

Over the Easter weekend at least 35 were wounded and nine people were killed by gunfire including an 11-year-old girl who was shot in a park just hours after enjoying church service and Easter dinner with her family. A day after the shootings, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said “We’re all tired of it,” and a cadre of special prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office were sent to the city to try to use federal gun laws to rein in illegal gun use.

This Fourth of July weekend struck an eerily similar, bloody cord as last Fourth of July, when at least 60 people were shot and 12 others were killed.

This weekend’s violence spread ominously into Monday morning. From about 2:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon to 7 a.m. on Monday, at least 30 people were shot -- 4 of them fatally.

But the summer rush of violence began well before this past weekend. The weekend before at least 29 people were shot, including two women that were shot at the city's annual gay pride parade and a teenager shot just outside of the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters, which are located not far from President Barack Obama's home in Chicago.