CHICAGO – Eight people were killed and 44 injured – including five children who were wounded when someone opened fire from a vehicle as they played outside – in weekend shootings, police said Monday.
Police said someone in a vehicle on Sunday evening pulled up to the children, all 15 years old or younger, who were walking from a park. Someone inside asked them if they belonged to a particular gang and then someone quickly opened fire. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a TV interview with WMAQ-TV that detectives believe the shooting stemmed from another shooting the previous day in another part of the city.
An 11-year-old girl shot in the neck suffered the most serious injury. After initially being listed in critical condition, the girl was upgraded to serious condition, according to Kristen Mack, a spokeswoman at John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called it "senseless, meaningless violence," according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Police also were investigating the shooting deaths of two teenagers, 16 and 18 — whose bodies were found Saturday inside an apartment on the city's South Side.
Two men were shot and killed Sunday on the near South Side when a gunman pulled up in a vehicle, climbed out and opened fire on the vehicle the two men were sitting in.
Two others were killed on the Southwest Side in what police have said appears to be a murder-suicide in which a Cook County Sheriff's correctional officer is believed to have shot and killed his wife, a Chicago Police officer, before turning the gun on himself. The bodies were found Sunday morning.
The shootings follow a similarly violent weekend in which at least four people were fatally shot and more than two dozen wounded. Both weekends were sunny and warm, leaving police and citizens concerned that the number of shootings will continue to climb in what is typically the most violent time of year.
"The fact is we're into busy season," McCarthy said in the television interview. "We know that come April, May, June, July, the crime rate goes up and it has to do with people being on the streets, more opportunity for this violence to occur. We know it, we plan for it, we address it."
Also Monday, the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago announced it had implemented a reorganization early this month, including the creation of a separate Violent Crimes section out of the previous Narcotics and Gangs division. But it does not mean the office is devoting more resources than before to battling violence, office spokesman Randall Samborn said.
Before he took the helm as the feds' new chief prosecutor in Chicago, Zachary Fardon came under pressure from Illinois' two U.S. senators and others to do more to help stem persistent Chicago violence. Fardon decided to break some large divisions up because they had become too unwieldy to manage, Samborn said.
Associated Press writer Michael Tarm contributed to this report.