On the heels of another violent weekend that left at least 66 people shot and more than a dozen killed, including two children, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown detailed what and who he believes is behind the rise in shootings.
"Open air drug markets are the pipeline to shootings and murders in Chicago," Brown said Monday, adding that additional difficulties due to coronavirus and low bonds for violent offenders have also played a large role.
Brown said Chicago's violence is complex, stemming from multiple issues, such as poverty and a lack of accountability for violent criminals.
"Here's what these evil murdering bastards do in the open air drug markets: they hire young kids that don't have any significant criminal history to be on these corners selling drugs for them and holding the guns and protect them until they sell their allotment of drugs and turn it back over to these evil bastards. They do that because these young people don't have significant criminal histories, and they're young so when we arrest and clear the corner they're in jail and out of jail," Brown said.
"These masterminds are not on the corner, they got these young people who are hand to mouth," Brown added. "They are there because there's no opportunity in their neighborhood. They are there because of the failures in many other social services - opportunities are just not available to them. That's why they're there, to feed their families."
According to Brown, such criminals are called "shorties."
"It's an evil methodology. It's why they're on the corner, because it protects the masterminds," Brown said. "It puts us in the position to arrest young people and put them in the pipeline to prison, which we don't want to do. That's not our point. So we're left with this mess as police officers because of poverty, because of no economic development, because of all the short comings in social services."
"These shorties are either the shooters or the victims - they are," Brown continued. "And many of them are murder-for-hire to make a little bit more money to feed your family. 'We'll pay you a little extra to go over and shoot this other gang.' And then the retaliations start. This is the complexity of Chicago's violence."
Brown called for violent offenders to be kept in jail longer.
He noted, however, that coronavirus has played a role in rising crime in Chicago, citing the virus' impact on the police force, which claimed the lives of three officers by mid-April, the release of inmates from jail due to the pandemic, and a lack of court proceedings during the state's shutdown.
In preparation for the long Fourth of July weekend, Brown said the city plans to have an additional 1,200 officers from Thursday through Sunday.
"Our endgame is arrests. Every day we're going to be clearing the corner, but when we clear a corner, we're pleading to the court system: keep them in jail through the weekend," he said.
In total, 16 people who were killed over the weekend, including a 1-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, according to police.
Sincere Gaston's mother left a laundromat and was driving south on Halsted near West 60th Place when another vehicle pulled alongside and someone inside that vehicle opened fire, striking Sincere in the chest, according to police. Authorities said his mother, who suffered a graze wound to the head, drove him to St. Bernard Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The 10-year-old girl, Lina Nunez, was inside an apartment at about 9:40 p.m. in the 3500 block of West Dickens Avenue when the bullet came through a window and struck her in the head, Chicago police said.
Neighbors said they heard gunfire but believed it was fireworks, according to police, who said the shots may have come from a group of males who began firing at another group on the block.
She was taken to Stroger Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said.
This weekend's violence followed a Father's Day weekend that left 104 shot, 14 fatally, across the city. Four of those 14 who were killed last weekend were young children as well, according to police.
"As a dad standing alongside other parents .. I struggle to make sense of the reckless gun violence that continues to take the lives of our young people throughout the city," Brown said.