The double-digit gun violence statistics that beset Chicago this Memorial Day weekend — a federal holiday that closes most businesses and all of the city’s 514 public schools, pouring youth onto the streets just as temperatures spike — have become a grisly holiday tradition.
Twelve people were killed and 57 were shot in 2015. Six people killed, and a staggering 71 shot in 2016. And seven were killed, 52 wounded in shootings during Memorial Day Weekend last year. As of early Monday evening, six people were dead, and 22 people had been wounded in gun violence across Chicago since midday Friday.
In an effort to curb the holiday’s expected violence, the Chicago Police Department flooded the streets with more than 1,000 additional officers, who were to stay deployed citywide through Tuesday.
Shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday, officers patrolling on foot responded to a ShotSpotter call in the 5200 block of West Ohio Street, where they chased an armed man down an alley and ultimately exchanged gunfire. The man was shot multiple times and was hospitalized in serious condition. The two officers had no apparent injuries.
Less than two-and-a-half miles from that alley, community leaders unpacked hamburgers later that morning for an anti-violence basketball tournament organized meant to occupy kids as temperatures climbed to record highs on this habitually violent holiday weekend, and to forge new connections across sharply defined gang boundaries.
“That was the premise, to bring some guys to get to know each other,” said 58-year-old Frederick Seaton, an organizer who has lived in the community his entire life. “To let them know, this guy, he isn’t really a bad guy. They can get along, they can coexist. Get to know people on the other side of Pulaski.”
Thirty-nine minutes after the tournament was set to end at 8 p.m., 20-year-old Bobbieana Slyons was walking near her home with her mother and daughter in the 800 block of West 76th Street when she was shot in the head and killed at 8:39 p.m. Police said they believe Slyons was not the intended target.
A man who lives in Presidential Towers in the West Loop asked not to be named after he described hearing multiple gunshots he thought were fireworks, followed by police sirens. A 27-year-old collapsed with multiple gunshot wounds in the building’s lobby, where the resident said he and his friends regularly wait for Uber rides. “It’s really scary. Nothing like this happens around here.”
Family members say China Marie Lyons-Upshaw, 17, a “lovable person” and a “fashion diva,” had been excitedly planning for prom next week and was spending Saturday night at home. She was in her Bronzeville bedroom when, at 9:02 p.m., witnesses say a man who had been “playing with a handgun” dropped the weapon, which “fell to the ground and discharged,” fatally shooting the teen in the chest.
Anti-violence activist Andrew Holmes joined the crowd that gathered outside Lyons-Upshaw’s family’s apartment in the 800 block of East 49th Street as Saturday night became Sunday morning. “It’s just Memorial Day [weekend],” he said. “But it’s just a typical day where we lose the lives of our children and our teenagers, and also our adults.”
Memorial Day Monday had a dual meaning for the Chicago families impacted by gun violence this weekend. Family and friends Lyons-Upshaw gathered for a hastily-organized memorial for the teen at the University of Chicago Charter School’s Woodlawn Campus Monday evening, the high school where the teen would have joined her classmates for graduation in less than a month.
A crime scene in the 5100 block of West Flournoy became an impromptu vigil in the hours after Jeremy Ross, 31, was fatally shot in the chest and head Monday morning by a friend. The two were arguing when one man began firing shots at the other, according to a woman who identified herself as the mother of Ross’ girlfriend. “He was a great guy,” the woman said. Ross, a resident of south suburban Harvey, had just left a birthday celebration with friends and family, including his mother, according to the witness at the scene. Relatives soon gathered at the crime scene near the I-290 off-ramp instead.
A woman who had lived for more than 50 years in the 1800 block of West Cullerton Street where a 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded just before midnight Sunday night said she braces for warm weather in her community, which other neighbors gathered around the crime scene described as “family-oriented” and “pretty quiet” most of the year.
“I don’t like summer ‘cuz all this stuff happens,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified. “My thing is the fall and winters, because everybody is barricaded inside, safe and sound.”