As the nation took to backyard BBQs and paused to celebrate the birth of our nation, the incessant gang warfare in and around the Chicago area continued without a hitch with 37 shootings and six deaths over the three-day weekend. The tragic toll included the death of a 39-year-father and his two young girls in a nearby Chicago suburb.
Friday was atypical in that the shootings were relatively few and no one died, but the rest of the weekend more than made up for it. Friday featured only five citizens wounded, all in separate incidents.
Saturday rang in with a vengeance with 11 shootings and two deaths, while Sunday saw 14 shootings and one death. Sunday also saw an additional three people murdered in a nearby suburb. By Independence Day itself, another four citizens were wounded.
One of the most tragic shootings of the holiday weekend was the death of 39-year-old Dionus M. Neely, who was shot and killed along with his ten-year-old and three-year-old daughters, Elle and India.
The murders took place in the nearby Chicago suburb of Hazel Crest on Sunday morning just after 2 AM, police report.
“Anyone who could kill a three-year-old and a ten-year-old, no matter what the circumstances, is nothing but pure evil as far as I’m concerned,” Hazel Crest Police Chief Mitchell Davis III said on Sunday afternoon.
The long weekend brings the list of violence to 2,008 total Chicagoans shot, and 302 shot and killed, among the total 336 homicides in the Windy City thus far this year.
However, this year’s Independence Day toll was not as bad as it could have been. After all, this year’s mayhem is a step back from the massive bloodletting of the past three years. In 2013, for instance, 63 were wounded, and 66 and 55 were wounded in the following two years. As to killings, the record shows 15, 16, and 11 people were killed during 2013, 2014, and 2015 respectively.
Chicago police weren’t exactly idle, though. Ahead of the big weekend, police raids swept through some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods, sweeping up 88 gang members before they could engage in the expected bloody ritual officials feared.
“We’re just trying to reinforce the message to the city, the citizens of the city, as well as to those committing the crime that, ‘We’ll find a way to get you,’” First Deputy Supt. John Escalante said during a press conference on Saturday.
The department also put 5,000 officers on the streets for the weekend, supplemented by smaller contingents from the Illinois State Police and the Cook County Sheriff’s office.
“I’m sick and tired and I know that the people living in those communities are tired of it (the gun violence),” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said on Friday. “If it takes 5,000 officers over the weekend, then it takes that.”