Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson reacted angrily Monday to Chicago’s bloodiest weekend in more than two years, calling on neighbors to come forward to help police stem the runaway violence.
“All of us know that this is not Chicago, what we saw,” an emotional Emanuel, sounding a familiar refrain as he seeks re-election to a third term, told reporters. “We are better than what we saw.”
At least 74 people were shot, 12 fatally, between 3 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday. The victims ranged in age from 11 to 62.
According to Tribune data, it marked the worst violence of any single weekend in Chicago since at least before 2016, the year in which homicides hit records unseen for two decades.
And Sunday saw more victims shot in a single day since at least September 2011 when the Tribune began tracking every shooting in Chicago. For the entire day, 47 people were shot, including a stunning 40 during a seven-hour period early Sunday.
At a late-morning news conference at the Gresham District station on the South Side, Johnson acknowledged in answer to a reporter’s question that no arrests had been made in any of the dozens of shootings over the weekend.
He said detectives had promising leads in several shootings.
Johnson expressed frustration at the blame laid on Chicago police for the violence when it’s those pulling the triggers who need to be held accountable.
“It’s the same individuals that continuously commit these crimes,” he said. “Where’s the accountability for them?”
READ MORE: 75 people shot, 12 fatally, in Chicago over the weekend »
The bloody weekend comes in a year that has actually seen improvements from 2017 and 2016 in both shootings and homicides.
Through Sunday, Chicago has recorded 327 homicides, a 20 percent decline from 411 homicides a year earlier. The department also reported 1,426 shooting incidents, exactly 300 fewer than a year earlier.
But Chicago still remains far ahead of New York City and Los Angeles, both much bigger cities, in its violence, fueled largely by street gang activity.
Through July 29, NYPD reported 167 homicides and 514 shooting victims, while LAPD said it posted 143 homicides and 515 shooting victims through July 14.
READ MORE: Mayoral challengers crank up criticism of Emanuel after city’s violent weekend »
The Police Department originally called the news conference for Monday to announce what it called a “milestone” with its efforts to improve field training for officers, one of numerous shortcomings cited by the U.S. Department of Justice in a scathing report of the department early last year.
But with the violent weekend becoming a national issue, Johnson never even touched on what development had been achieved.
“What we saw this weekend, it just rips at everything that I believe in because I know as a city and as a neighborhood … we can do better,” the superintendent said.
Johnson said much of the weekend violence occurred in four patrol districts, three of them — Ogden, Harrison and Austin — on the West Side. The South Side’s Gresham District was the scene of the largest single shooting — eight people, including a 14-year-old girl — and the death of a woman found bound in a bathtub, which police are investigating as the weekend’s 13th homicide.
The superintendent couldn’t say definitively what caused the rise in violence this past weekend, but he denied that the Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park put a drain on police resources for the rest of the city.
He also scoffed at the brutally hot temperatures playing a factor.
On Saturday and Sunday, Chicago reached average high temperatures in the mid-90s, more than 10 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service. Early Sunday, when the 40 shootings took place within seven hours, the lowest temperature during that stretch was 78 degrees.
“People have asked me is it the weather? Is it this? Is it that? No, it’s the psychology of the people pulling these triggers,” he said. “Weather? All that does is afford more people to enjoy the summertime. The weather doesn’t cause a person to say, ‘You know what? It’s 90 degrees. I’m going to go out and shoot somebody.’ “
Johnson and Emanuel encouraged residents in those neighborhoods to speak up.
“Don’t think for a moment people don’t know in the neighborhood who was responsible,” Emanuel said. “If you say to yourself ‘enough is enough,’ will that implore you to then do something, so this doesn’t happen again?
“The offender in almost every situation … is known by somebody,” Emanuel said. “They have a moral responsibility to speak up, so there could be legal accountability for those actions.”
Johnson’s tone changed from frustration to anger when he talked about how the Police Department shouldn’t bear the brunt of criticism for the rampant violence.
“It’s very rare we actually witness this stuff. Somebody knows who did it,” said Johnson, his voice rising. “They do. They know that.
“I hear people holding us accountable all the time,” he continued. “I never hear people say these individuals out there on the streets need to stop pulling the trigger. … They get a pass from everybody, and they shouldn’t.”
Marshall Hatch, pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church on the West Side, said the department has a long way to go to repair its damaged relationship with those living in violence-plagued neighborhoods. He said it’s difficult to convince residents to come forward to help out police, particularly because of its low rate of solving homicides — about 17 percent last year.
“You put yourself at risk,” Hatch said. “Obviously, the police can’t protect you, and if somebody kills you, they can’t find out who did it.”