Chicago’s top cop calls spike in shootings a ‘pandemic’ that is draining resources from fighting coronavirus outbreak

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot and interim police Superintendent Charlie Beck decried Tuesday’s spike in gun violence in Chicago, saying the shootings strain the city’s health services at a time when hospitals need to focus on the coronavirus pandemic.

“Violence of any kind is never acceptable,” Lightfoot said. “But the fact that this is especially urgent now as our ability to treat all Chicagoans is being stretched to the breaking point, we cannot allow this to happen and we will not allow this to happen.”

At least 21 people were shot Tuesday, including a 5-year-old girl who was sitting on a porch on the South Side. A man with her was killed. Six other people were shot to death across the city, the deadliest day from gunfire in nearly two years. During a five-hour span on Wednesday, another nine people were shot — one reported as accidental — and two people were killed, including a 15-year-old boy.

The slayings and shootings come as Chicago also struggles to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. Chicago has accounted for 6,099 of the state’s 15,078 known cases and 177 of Illinois’ 462 deaths since the outbreak started.

Beck underscored Lightfoot’s dire message on Wednesday, declaring “there are two pandemics in Chicago, and only one is virus induced.

Violence has been generally down in the city in the weeks since Gov. J.B. Pritzker imposed a stay-at-home order last month to try to curb the coronavirus outbreak. Chicago recorded its fewest fatal shootings for March in at least five years, according to data kept by the Tribune.

Tuesday, however, saw the most shootings in the city in at least a month and the most people killed by gunfire since August 2018, when nine were shot to death. The burst of violence coincided with temperatures in the upper 70s, several degrees shy of breaking a 127-year-old record. On Monday, 13 people were shot in Chicago and three of them died, according to Chicago police.


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