CHICAGO - As officials try to prevent another bloody weekend in Chicago, FOX 32 News has found suburban Cook County in the middle of a 50% surge in homicides.
Suburban killings so far this year are growing faster than the increase in Chicago.
The gangs, guns and greed that have helped to make 2021, so far, Chicago's deadliest year in more than a decade are not confined to the city limits.
Numbers provided by the medical examiner's office show there have been 100 homicides in suburban Cook County since January 1st, compared to 66 at this point last year and 63 in 2019.
Many of the murders occurred in the south suburbs, including Harvey, which faces the same gang issues that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot blames for two mass shootings that just occurred this past weekend.
The 50% increase in the suburbs outpaces Chicago, but this year's 341 killings in the city is far larger than the suburban toll.
The upcoming Fourth of July weekend is traditionally one of the most violent in Chicago all year. Chicago police have canceled days off to be able to deploy extra officers in the most violent neighborhoods, but not only there.
"In addition, we have the lakefront, which is kind of an area where [on] the Fourth of July, people kind of like to visit," Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said.
Other civilian city agencies will also be issuing citations and shutdown orders to unlicensed nightclubs and drug party houses, where large gatherings have sometimes turned violent.
"We need to work together as a city to combat the issues plaguing our city. It's not just the police department's job," said Commissioner Rosa Escareno of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
Officials working to prevent another violent weekend this Fourth of July hope to do better than last weekend, when the toll included 80 people shot and eight of them killed.
"Incidents like these are both heartbreaking and frustrating," she said Monday.
"Preliminary information from the intelligence that's been gathered and the information about the ongoing gang conflict is that this was retaliation for some incident that happened in the past," Lightfoot added.
As for a notorious execution-style, double-killing two weeks ago of a young couple in Humboldt Park captured on video, Supt. Brown said detectives were zeroing in on a specific suspect.
"A lot of work has to go into collecting the appropriate evidence so the charges will stick when we do file charges," Brown said.
While the Chicago Police Department has changed the way it calculates the so-called clearance rate – murders it has solved – Supt. Brown claims the clearance rate is now at about 52 percent, a 15-year high.