Residents, Alderman Seek Answers Amid Increases in River North Violence

40 people have been shot since the beginning of the year on Chicago's Near North Side, according to officials

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A shooting overnight in Chicago's River North left a 30-year-old man critically hurt, with neighbors and Ald. Brian Hopkins demanding solutions to recent increases in violence.

Thursday's shooting happened just after 3 a.m. at the corner of Illinois and Dearborn, outside a building that houses RPM Italian and Underground nightclub.

According to police, the shooting was at least the 40th on the Near North Side, which includes River North, since the beginning of the year. At least nine people have died in gun violence in the area.

Ald. Brian Hopkins, who represents the city's 2nd Ward, believes bars and nightclubs with a license to operate until 5 a.m. bear at least some responsibility for the spike in crime.

“They are attracted by the late hour bars. They are attracted by the nightlife and that’s a problem after the bars close when they go back to their vehicles to retrieve weapons," he said. "(It's) usually guns but sometimes knives, and that’s when the fights start and that’s when the violence occurs."

Hopkins went on to add that he believes the suspects in these cases do not actually live in the area, and says he believes they come in for the late night scene.

“This has been a summer (unlike any we) have witnessed," he said. "It’s been really horrific to watch this level of violence in the downtown area."

Neighbors share Hopkins' concerns, feeling on edge with the recent spike in not only shootings but in crime in general.

“I think there is always concern especially if you work late it makes you not want to take public transit or walk around,” one resident said.

Several incidents in River North have made headlines recently, including a drive-by shooting on July 10 that left four people injured. that hurt four. In May, a mass shooting occurred at an area McDonald's, leaving two people dead and at least nine others wounded.

While Hopkins says it will take the bars and the community as a whole to get control over this situation, he believes more police officers are needed.

“They are exhausted," he said. "You’re sending a tired police officer into a chaotic dangerous situation, and it’s a problem and it’s a recipe for disaster."

The Alderman tells NBC 5 there is legislation pending with the licensing committee that would require the late hour bars to come up with a safety plan to help get a handle on violent crime.

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