After a trio of mass shootings left one teen dead and at least 17 other people injured in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent a strong message to those illegally trafficking guns into the city, threatening to “ship them off” to federal prison.
During a media availability Thursday, Lightfoot said that “weapons of war” have no place on Chicago’s streets, and that the city will work with federal partners to crack down on the flow of illegal weapons.
“It’s about sending a loud and clear message: if you pick up a gun, if you shoot indiscriminately into a crowd, not only are we going to pick you up, not only are we going to take you to federal court, but we’re going to ship you off to South Dakota and you’re never going to see your family again,” she said. “The choice is yours. We have to send a very loud and clear message: if you’re bringing guns into the city of Chicago, we’re coming for you. We’re going to meet you at the border, we’re going to lock you up, and we’re going to send you to federal prison.”
Lightfoot’s remarks come after nearly 30 people were shot on Wednesday alone. In the first shooting in the city’s North Lawndale neighborhood, a 14-year-old was shot and killed, and four other victims were taken to area hospitals, according to Chicago police.
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Just 10 minutes later, another shooting occurred nearby, with five more people shot, including four teens. An 18-year-old was listed in critical condition after the shooting after he was hit in the back by gunfire.
In the third shooting, which occurred just before midnight, eight people were wounded when they were shot while standing outside of a party bus on the city’s North Side.
Police are continuing to investigate all three shootings, and Lightfoot says that she is looking to work with federal partners to crack down on gun trafficking, which her administration says has been responsible for the large number of illegal weapons on the city’s streets.
“We’re sending a message to the gun traffickers: we’re going to find you no matter where you are. We are sending a message to the victims that we hear you, and we are here to support the work that needs to be done to keep these violent weapons, these weapons of war, off our streets,” she said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, on a visit to Chicago Thursday, announced that the Department of Justice had launched a new “strike force” to combat gun trafficking in the city. The force will be one of five deployed in the initial rollout nationwide, with an emphasis on shutting down trafficking routes between Chicago and nearby states like Indiana.
“These are dangerous people who should never have weapons in the first place,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to bring them to justice, and we have to rattle the sabre of federal time, which these folks in the neighborhoods, they fear the federal time.”