CHICAGO (SUN TIMES MEDIA WIRE) - Shootings in the first days of April have jumped 57 percent across Chicago compared to the same period last year, with police saying warmer weather may be a contributing factor.
At least 88 people have been shot within city limits in the first 10 days of April, according to data kept by the Chicago Sun-Times. Last year, 56 people were shot in the same time period.
The shootings have also been more deadly — 20 people have been shot to death so far this month, compared to seven during the same period last year.
Warmer temperatures may have factored in the spike. April has been almost 10 degrees warmer on average than last year, when the temperatures averaged below freezing, according to the National Weather Service.
Warmer weather brings people outside and makes targets of shootings more accessible, according to Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
But a larger factor, he said, is two major ongoing gang conflicts fueling the violence in Englewood and the East Garfield Park neighborhoods.
In one shooting Wednesday, two men were killed in East Garfield Park and another was critically wounded, police said. Over 30 rounds were fired in the shooting that detectives believe is related to gang conflicts involving an open-air drug market in the area.
On Saturday, six were wounded, including two children, when two men opened fire on a baby shower in Englewood.
Detectives have determined that the shooters were aiming at someone not attending the shower, but who happened to be walking in front of the home, Guglielmi said. The shooting critically wounded an 8-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl.
Gugleilmi said the department takes a two-pronged approach to stop gun violence: finding and arresting those causing the violence, and outreach efforts meant to curb the cycle of violence.
“Getting people out of this cycle is really the long-term approach here, because you can’t arrest your way out of this problem,” he said. “It’s about shaping lifestyles, and that’s certainly outside the role of the police, but it’s something everyone has a role to play in.”
Most of the 66 shooting incidents this month were concentrated in the South and Wests sides. Englewood and Austin had at least six shooting incidents, followed by South Shore with five and Grand Crossing with four.
Police say the recent uptick in shootings contrasts with overall trends that show crime and murders declining.
In the first three months of this year, 76 murders were reported — a 30 percent decline from 2018, police said. The number of shooting incidents stood at 348 during the first quarter, a 17 percent decrease from the previous year.
Community activist Andrew Holmes believes that taking responsibility of ourselves and our family is the key to stopping the cycle of violence.
“The gun is not going to make a career for them,” Holmes said. “We’ve got to get these teenagers, these adults, get their minds back on their futures. You know, I have a dream. You still have a dream and it’s not that gun. … We’ve got to get their minds back on their futures, not destruction.”