Chicago has its 700th homicide of 2016

FOX 32 / SUN-TIMES - Joseph Anderson, who was found dead with a gunshot wound to the face on the floor of his Rosemoor neighborhood apartment Thursday night, is at least the 700th homicide victim in the city this year.

He was one of four people killed in separate shootings on the South and West sides Thursday as the city surpassed the 700 homicide total for the first time since 1998.

A total of 704 homicides were reported that year, a number likely to be surpassed in 2016 as the city appears on pace for 750 homicidal deaths. That includes 10 people who were shot or otherwise assaulted in prior years, but died in 2016.

Last year the city recorded 473 homicides for the entire year.

Shootings in the city are also far surpassing the 2015 totals, with Chicago Police reporting 3,165 shooting incidents through Wednesday. More than 3,290 people have been injured in those shootings, and that does not include the 629 who died as a result of being shot.

Police statistics show a 49 percent increase in shooting incidents over a year ago, and a 54 percent increase in total homicides, though police had only reported 654 homicides as of Wednesday. Police do not include prior-year incidents, shootings they consider self-defense or accidental, or fatal shootings that occur on interstate highways which are investigated by Illinois State Police.

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Sun-Times earlier this year that the department counts only what it classifies as first-degree murders. Those are cases defined as: “the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another. The classification of this offense is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body,” according to the FBI.

For those living through this violence, the goal is to find a way to get out.  

"It's tragic, like going to sleep to the sound of gun shots at night. Having to think about that you going to end up one day, maybe one day just going down the street and getting caught up in crossfire,” said Daquian Dent, a member of Build Chicago.

Kids like dent know the dangers in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods, and kids like him call it home.

They find sanctuary on a Friday night at Build Chicago in the city's Austin neighborhood, which is one of the areas hardest hit by gun violence.

"That's a shame that I'm only 15 years old and I know quite a few people that have been shot or even killed,” Dent said.

For Clifton "Booney" McFowler, who is a Street Intervention Specialist that works closely with gang-involved youth at Build, the numbers are unsettling.

"It's a shame. That we living in a civilized society that we have a higher amount of murders than a war torn country,” McFowler said.

Booney, as he's called at build, came from the streets of Austin. He spent 27 years in prison. When he got out, he saw what had become of his community.

"I knew that it was something I had to do, to save my babies. Because I was such a part of the destruction of my community, now my fight is to be a part of the reconstruction,” McFowler said.

As a mentor at build, he knows where life can take these young men. He wants to help them see something he didn't when he was their age.

"We've gotten away from the basics. Loving ourselves. That's what we try to teach them here and show them, love yourself because if you love me, I can't hurt nothing that look like me,” McFowler said.

Build Chicago has been extending its hours on Fridays and Saturdays to provide a safe haven for their kids. The 700 number being reported is something they don't want to add to.

The 700th homicide happened about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, when Anderson was found dead with a gunshot wound to the face on the floor of his apartment in the 400 block of East 107th Street, according to Chicago Police. The Cook County medical examiner’s office had not released his name as of late Friday morning.

Earlier Thursday, a man was killed and another wounded about 1:15 p.m. in the backyard of a Roseland home when a shooter walked out of an alley in the 11200 block of South Edbrooke, police said. A 22-year-old man was shot in the back and was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he died at 2 p.m., authorities said. His name has not been released.

About 11:45 a.m., a man in his 20s was shot repeatedly in an Auburn Gresham drive-by in the 8300 block of South Hamilton, and he died at Christ Medical Center, authorities said. His name has not been released.

The day’s first killing happened about 4:45 a.m. in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Elijah Murphy, 38, was getting out of a vehicle in the 4200 block of South Racine when someone opened fire from a passing SUV. Murphy, of the 5700 block of South Bishop, was shot multiple times and died at the scene, authorities said. Family members said the father of four was being dropped off at work by his pregnant daughter when he was slain.

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