The 96-hour spasm of gun violence added to the toll of what already has been a deadly year on the streets of the third-largest US city.
Through May 13 this year there have been 185 homicides in the city, according to the latest police figures, up from 116 during the comparable period last year. Chicago’s murder rate has outpaced New York City, which has more than twice the population.
This weekend’s victims included a 7-year-old girl wounded Friday afternoon while playing in front of her house on the city’s south side and a 13-year-old boy slain in a pizzeria on the city’s north side early yesterday.
The surge in deadly shootings has frustrated Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who vowed to cut the city’s crime rate when he was elected last year. While most violent crime is down year to date, murders are up more than 50 percent, according to police data.
Officials say years of targeting by law enforcement has shattered Chicago’s once-stable gang structure and that the jump in murders reflects a power struggle between the smaller gangs trying to fill the vacuum.
Yesterday, Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced a new push to fight gang-related violence and to close businesses in the city they said served as “conduits for criminal activity.”
Officials said record heat also may have contributed to the violence during the holiday weekend. In Chicago and other US cities, homicide rates rise along with the temperature in the spring and summer as more people go out into the streets and drink to cool off.
Temperatures in the city reached 97 on Sunday and 95 on Monday, making it the hottest Memorial Day weekend in more than a century, according to the National Weather Service.