11 killed, nearly 70 wounded in Chicago weekend shootings
CHICAGO — At least 11 people were shot and killed, and about 70 others were wounded over the weekend in Chicago, in a spasm of gun violence that police attributed to gangs, the illegal flow of guns, and sweltering August heat that drew more people outside.
President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Monday turned the crime wave into a political issue, using it to criticize the city’s longtime Democratic leadership.
The violence peaked early Sunday, including one shooting on the city’s South Side that wounded eight people.
The victims ranged in age from 11 to 63, according to police. One teenage girl died after being shot in the face. A teenage boy was fatally shot riding a bike Sunday afternoon. Other shootings took place at a block party and a funeral.
Even for Chicagoans all too accustomed to violence in parts of the city, the weekend stood out. By comparison, at least seven people were killed and 32 wounded during the long Memorial Day weekend, the Chicago Tribune reported.
‘‘Our souls are burdened,’’ Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. ‘‘It is unacceptable to happen in any neighborhood of Chicago. We are a better city.’’
Gang members are using large summer crowds as cover in some cases, police Patrol Chief Fred Waller said Sunday. ‘‘They take advantage of that opportunity and they shoot into a crowd, no matter who they hit,’’ he said.
Police have said violent crime has declined overall in Chicago. Still, antiviolence protesters have blocked highways to voice their outrage.
Chicago ended 2017 with fewer homicides, 650, than 2016, when there were 771. Although the drop was significant, it exceeded the combined number of killings in New York City and Los Angeles, which are the two US cities bigger than Chicago.
Echoing comments that Trump himself has made repeatedly about Chicago, Giuliani blamed Emanuel — President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff — and decades of ‘‘one-party Democratic rule’’ in a series of tweets on Sunday and Monday.
Giuliani, a former New York mayor, also tweeted his support for Chicago’s former police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, calling him a ‘‘policing genius.’’ McCarthy’s time as deputy commissioner for operations in the New York Police Department paved the way for his job as the top cop in Chicago.
McCarthy announced this year that he plans to run for mayor next February against Emanuel, who fired McCarthy in 2015 after the release of dashcam video showing a white police officer shoot a black teenager 16 times.
Giuliani tweeted: ‘‘He can do a lot better than Mayor Emanuel who is fiddling while Chicago burns.’’
Emanuel held a news conference with Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson on Monday to address the latest violence. The mayor had no immediate comment on Giuliani’s attacks.
Emanuel said residents must be willing to ‘‘speak up’’ and help identify suspects. Johnson echoed that, saying people often know who pulled the trigger but don’t go to police.
The two said the weekend shootings were concentrated in just a few neighborhoods on Chicago’s West and South Sides, in areas where street gangs are entrenched. Johnson said the shootings ‘‘are not random’’ and are ‘‘fueled by gang conflicts.’’
In his Twitter messages, Giuliani falsely claimed that Chicago had ‘‘63 murders this weekend.’’
But the violence reports accumulated at a feverish pace Sunday. In less than three hours, 30 people were shot in the city, an average of one every five minutes or so. Eight of the shooting incidents during that period had three or more victims.
The most intense burst of violence began just after midnight.
Two men in a car fired shots into the crowd at a block party on South Avers Avenue, hitting a 13-year-old boy twice in an arm, a 16-year-old boy in the buttocks, and a 25-year-old man in a leg. A 17-year-old girl was grazed in an arm and knee.
Republican leaders have long attempted to use urban violence as a political weapon against Democrats, and the strategy has paid off for GOP candidates from Richard Nixon to Trump.
The nation’s crime rate climbed by more than 170 percent between 1960 and 1970, and Nixon made the trend a centerpiece of his 1968 bid for the White House, according to Politico