Chicago has suffered its bloodiest weekend yet, with 17 shooting deaths adding an exclamation point to a spike in homicides in the city during 2016.
On Oct. 31, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called for stricter sentencing of repeat illegal firearm offenders after the Windy City experienced 17 shooting deaths from Oct. 28 through Oct. 30, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“It was a tough weekend, but that just goes back to what I’ve been saying all the time,” Johnson said. “Listen, until we start holding repeat gun offenders accountable for these crimes, we’re going to keep seeing cycles of gun violence like this.”
Father’s Day weekend had previously held the record for the most deaths in 2016, with 13 fatal shootings. There have been 638 homicides in Chicago this year alone, an increase of 217 murders when compared to 2015. There have been overall 1,106 more shootings in the Windy City this year than during the same timeframe in 2015.
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Among those killed this past weekend was 14-year-old Demarco Webster Jr., who was gunned down while helping his father move out of a building along South Central Avenue. Demarco was described by friends and family as a promising student and a gifted basketball player.
Two other victims during the weekend of sustained violence were 17-year-old twins Edward and Edwin Bryant, who were murdered during an alleged drive-by shooting in Old Town. Police suspect that the two brothers were killed because of who they were walking with.
“The two brothers, as far as we can tell, they didn’t have any documented gang affiliation,” Johnson said. “But the individuals they were with did.”
The local police and Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago have attributed the recent surge in violence in intensifying gang activity and relaxed gun laws that do not hold repeat offenders accountable, USA Today reports.
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“These violent gun offenders are clearly giving us the message that they just don’t care about the rest of the city of Chicago,” Johnson said. “To be quite frank, I’m sick of it, and I know the people in the communities are tired of it. That’s why we have to do a better job of holding those individuals accountable.”
Based on the FBI’s crime statistics data released in September, statistics analyst Jeff Asher of FiveThirtyEight found that the rate of homicides in the U.S. increased by 10.8 percent between 2014 and 2015, the largest annual increase in decades.
“So far, the 2016 increase appears far more concentrated in just a few big cities,” Asher wrote. “Chicago, in particular, has seen a dramatic rise in the numbers of murders … Chicago and Orlando account for close to half of the net increase in murders in cities for which data is available.”