By Jeremy Gorner and Megan Crepeau
CHICAGO — Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson repeated his call for a crackdown on repeat gun offenders after weekend violence marked the deadliest so far in what has been the city’s most violent year in decades, according to police and data compiled by the Chicago Tribune.
Seventeen people were fatally shot in the city between Friday afternoon and early Monday, an extraordinary toll for this late in 2016 even in a year that is far outpacing last year in shootings and homicides. The victims included an eighth-grade honors student and twin 17-year-old boys.
In discussing the violence Monday after addressing the latest class of about 200 rookie cops to graduate from the police academy, Johnson turned to familiar themes.
“It was a tough weekend, but that just goes back to what I’ve been saying all the time,” he told reporters. “Listen, until we start holding repeat gun offenders accountable for these crimes, we’re going to keep seeing cycles of gun violence like this.”
Johnson denied that the department was caught off guard by the mostly gang violence on the South and West sides while deploying hundreds of extra officers for crowd control outside Wrigley Field for the Cubs’ three World Series games over the weekend.
“We had canceled days off as well as (required) 12-hour shifts over the entire weekend, so I’m confident that we had the resources out there” in the most dangerous neighborhoods, he said.
Up until now, Father’s Day weekend had been the most violent with 59 people shot, 13 fatally. The same number of people were shot this past weekend, but more of the shootings were fatal, according to Tribune data.
The weekend toll also was deadlier than the three long summer holiday weekends when violence typically spikes because of the warm weather. Six people were fatally shot over the Memorial Day weekend, five over the Fourth of July weekend and 13 people over Labor Day weekend, according to Tribune data.
There have been at least 638 homicides so far this year, 217 more than this time last year, the data show. At least 3,662 people have been shot in the city, 1,106 more than during the same period last year.
This past weekend there were shootings in every area of the city but the Far North and Northwest sides, according to police. Of the 17 people who were killed, seven were younger than 20.
The youngest was 14-year-old Demarco Webster Jr., described by his grade school principal as one of her best students. Demarco had planned to run for student council and try out for basketball, and he was being recruited for an NAACP leadership program.
Demarco was shot early Saturday while helping his father move out of a building in the 500 block of South Central Avenue, according to police and relatives.
A little more than 24 hours later, 17-year-old twins Edward and Edwin Bryant were killed in an apparent drive-by shooting in Old Town. Police responding to calls about gunfire found one of the boys lying on the sidewalk in the 400 block of West Evergreen Avenue and another around the corner in the 1300 block of North Hudson Avenue.
Both had been shot several times and were pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
“The two brothers, as far as we can tell, they didn’t have any documented gang affiliation,” said Johnson, who noted police recovered video of the shooting. “But the individuals they were with did.”
A shooting late Friday killed Bryant Fields and Chiquita Ford, both 30. Fields had achieved some notoriety in March after he was shot while broadcasting video of himself live on Facebook.
He survived that attack and was with Ford in a car at a Back of the Yards gas station Friday when he was shot in the chest. Ford was shot in the side. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.