Chicago Police Believe Mass Shootings Sunday Night Were Likely Gang-Related

A file photo shows a crime scene blocked off by the Chicago Police Department. (WTTW News)A file photo shows a crime scene blocked off by the Chicago Police Department. (WTTW News)

Chicago police are searching for leads after at least two people were fatally shot and more than a dozen others injured in a pair of mass shootings on the South Side late Sunday that likely both had gang ties.

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Police Superintendent David Brown on Monday said investigations remain ongoing into a shooting in the South Shore that left one dead and five injured, and another at Marquette Park that left one dead and 10 injured.

While cautioning that the police investigations are only beginning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the two mass shootings were caused by “gang conflicts” and were retaliation for previous shootings.

“Incidents like these are heartbreaking and frustrating,” Lightfoot said at an unrelated news conference Monday morning.

The people involved in the shootings have a “thirst for revenge” and no “sense of decency,” Lightfoot said, adding that “street justice” often hurts children and “innocent bystanders.”

The first of the incidents was a drive-by shooting that occurred at about 8:45 p.m. at 2226 E. 71st St. One of those shot was a 23-year-old woman who was struck six times and pronounced dead, according to police. Investigators suspect the vehicle involved is an SUV, but they do not yet have a make, model or license plate.

About two hours later, three men opened fire into a group of people standing at 6245 S. Artesian Ave., striking 12 people and killing one, a woman who was shot once in the chest. Brown said this shooting stemmed from an “internal gang conflict” that dates back a year. Some of those in the crowd were targeted, he said, but the woman who died was not one of them.

“She was an innocent bystander that was shot and killed by these gang members seeking retaliation,” Brown said.

People are seeking a suspected vehicle, but again, they do not yet have a license plate nor do they have a description of the suspects, according to Brown.

No suspects have been arrested in either shooting.

In all, the Chicago Police Department said 74 people were shot over the weekend, including six fatally. As of Sunday, Chicago has recorded 326 homicides and 1,489 shootings in 2021.

As he has in the past, Brown put blame for the shootings on “too many illegal guns in the wrong hands,” and criticized a lack of consequences for violent offenders.

Lightfoot praised President Joe Biden for announcing new efforts to crack down on illegal gun trafficking, adding that she has been calling for that step since 2019. But she also again called on Cook County court officials to restart trials, which were largely suspended during the pandemic.

READ: Biden Targets Law-Breaking Gun Dealers in Anti-Crime Plan

“Open up the courts,” Lightfoot said. “People need to get their day in court.”

Already in June there have been multiple mass shootings, including one in Englewood on June 15 that left five people dead.

Chicago officials have put forth a “whole of government approach” to try and stem violence in the city this summer, relying on historical crime data to identify areas where crimes may occur.

“Some of this is predictable and we deploy around that,” he said. “But things like what happened, the two mass shootings … were unpredictable. These were just people sitting in chairs, having a good time talking. They weren’t doing anything to violate the law.”

Asked how his department is preparing to handle the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, which has been violent historically, Brown pointed to “planning, planning, planning” and deploying officers in “predictable areas for violent crime.”

That strategy will be detailed further during a news conference later this week, Brown said, but the plan will include canceling officers’ days off and putting them on 12-hour shifts.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” he said. “Without the brave men and women of the Chicago Police Department, risking everything, the best-laid plans are fraught with failure.”

Heather Cherone contributed to this report.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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