Chicago Police

Looting and Chaos Erupt in Downtown Chicago, With Widespread Damage and More Than 100 Arrests

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Chaos erupted in downtown Chicago early Monday, with widespread looting at countless businesses, property damage, as well as shots fired both at and by police.

More than 100 people were arrested, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said at a news conference Monday morning alongside Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Brown said those arrested were taken into custody on allegations ranging from looting, disorderly conduct, battery against police and more in the unrest that also left 13 officers injured.

The unrest began at around 12:20 a.m., when police were called to reports of a mob scene on Michigan Avenue. Large crowds gathered outside the Saks Fifth Avenue and Coach stores, with hundreds of people yelling and throwing things at officers.

Video taken in Chicago’s Gold Coast shows looters hitting a business and the aftermath of smashed windows and empty shelves.

Brown said 400 officers were dispatched to the downtown area as "car caravans" headed into the Loop in what he called "an incident of pure criminality."

Looters were captured on video in multiple locations, with merchandise taken and storefronts vandalized. Officers were told to respond wearing helmets and there were multiple reports of gunshots fired.

Just before 5 a.m., a Chicago police spokesman tweeted that shots had been fired at officers who returned fire near the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Lake Street. No officers were injured in that shooting, Tom Ahern said, adding that it was not known at the time if the offenders were shot.

It appeared as though the looting initially began in the city's Loop, but spread to multiple Chicago neighborhoods in the overnight hours, with reports of businesses struck in River North, Streeterville, Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast and the South Loop as well.

Video from NBC Sky 5 shows damage and the aftermath of looting that broke out overnight at a Best Buy and surrounding businesses in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Brown said Monday that social media posts encouraged looting as tensions ran high after officers shot a man in the Englewood neighborhood on Sunday afternoon.

At around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, police said officers were called to the 5700 block of South Racine Avenue for a report of a man with a gun. There, they found an individual who matched the description, CPD said, and attempted to confront him in an alley.

Police said the man fled and produced a gun, firing shots at the officers who returned fire, striking him. Brown said Monday morning that the man was 20 years old and was taken to the University of Chicago Hospital where he was being treated for injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening.

"After the shooting, a crowd gathered on the South Side," Brown said Monday. "Following the police action, tempers flared, fueled by misinformation."

"As the afternoon turned into evening, CPD became aware of several social media posts encouraging looting downtown," Brown continued, noting that as the department became aware of the social media posts, officers were sent to the downtown area where they encountered hundreds of people looting, including some who were armed and opened fire.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown reveals what authorities believe caused chaos to erupt downtown and across several neighborhoods overnight, with widespread looting and violence that resulted in more than 100 arrests.

In what he called a "melee," Brown said a security guard and a civilian were both struck by gunfire and both taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

"Criminals took to the streets with confidence that there will be no consequences for their actions," Brown said. "I pledge to pursue these offenders to the fullest extent of the law."

Lightfoot called the events of Monday morning "abject criminal behavior, pure and simple."

"This is not legitimate First Amendment-protected speech. These were not poor people engaged in petty theft to feed themselves and their families. This was straight up felony criminal conduct," she said, delivering a sharp warning to anyone involved.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot discusses overnight chaos that erupted downtown early Monday and resulted in more than 100 arrests and left 13 officers injured.

"To those who engage in criminal behavior, let's be clear: We are coming for you," Lightfoot said. "We are already at work at finding you and we intend to hold you accountable for your actions. I don't care. I do not care whatever justification was given for this. There is no justification for criminal behavior ever."

"You have no right, no right to take and destroy the property of others," she continued. "Our residents deserve to be safe."

"This is not anywhere near acceptable," Lightfoot continued, calling on Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx to "make sure that these individuals who are arrested and those to come are held accountable."

As the looting and violence unfolded in Chicago's downtown area early Monday, the Chicago Transit Authority shut down all train and bus service downtown "at the request of public safety officials," the CTA said. Buses did not run in the area bounded by Fullerton, Cermak and Ashland Avenue for several hours, the CTA said, with all train service temporarily suspended as well.

The bridges over the Chicago River were also lifted at around 4:30 a.m., preventing further entry into and exit from the downtown area.

At around 7:15 a.m., the city's Office of Emergency Management & Communications tweeted that the CTA was restoring service and bridges and expressway ramps downtown would be opening as various street closures remained in effect around the Loop.

The CTA began the process of restoring train and bus service at around 7:50 a.m. However, it appeared many of the bridges remained lifted beyond when OEMC said they would be, continuing to prevent entry and exit into the downtown area.

Looters swarmed a Walgreens store and Portillo’s in Chicago’s River North neighborhood early Monday.

Illinois State Police confirmed at around 5 a.m. that Chicago police asked for assistance in blocking all expressway ramps going in and out of the city's Loop: from Cermak to I-55, I-94 from Roosevelt to Division and Congress Parkway from I-290.

Brown said a heavy police presence would continue throughout the downtown area, with officers returning to working 12-hour shifts and no days off, both until further notice.

Access to the downtown area will also be restricted between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., police said, with detectives instructed to create a "special team of investigators" to review hours of security camera footage to identify suspects.

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