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Chicago police tout declining crime numbers amid spasms of gun violence


Chicago police on Friday touted the lowest number of shootings and homicides of any October over the last four years even as spasms of gun violence continue to plague some communities.

The city saw a 20% drop in homicides last month compared to October of last year, along with a 10% decline in overall crime throughout the city, police said. Overall, homicides were down 11% and shootings 10% during the first 10 months of 2019.

Still, the historic lows in homicides and shootings last month offer little comfort to the families of victims such as a 7-year-old girl left critically ill and “fighting for her life” after a shooting on Halloween evening, according to police.

“None of that matter if parents that live in certain communities can’t even take their children out on Halloween,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Friday. “The shooting yesterday was reprehensible.”

The girl, dressed as a bumblebee, had been trick-or-treating with her family, CNN affiliate WLS reported. A group of men chasing another man opened fire, Sgt. Rocco Alioto told reporters Thursday night. The child was shot in the lower neck and listed as critical at Stroger Hospital, police said.

Johnson said police had identified a person of interest in the shooting. The gunman was wearing a “Jason” mask from the “Friday the 13th” movies, he said. The shooting may have stemmed from a gang dispute in the Little Village neighborhood on the city’s West Side, where residents had come forward to offer numerous tips.

“The only way we can make our neighborhoods safe is if everyone is invested in the process,” he said.

Chicago police said almost 9,300 guns have been recovered so far this year — a 19% increase from this same period in 2018.

“That is progress but it’s not cause for celebration,” Johnson said of the overall crime numbers.

Violent crime totals in Chicago grabbed headlines in recent years. In 2016, the city reported its highest number of homicides in two decades: 762.

The department said the double-digit drop in homicides and shootings was accompanied by 20-year lows in robberies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts.

Chicago police have sought to cut gun violence through a “comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck approach with community-based organizations, street outreach groups and law enforcement collaborating and coordinating resources and strategies,” according to the statement.

Chicago has been singled out by critics — particularly President Donald Trump — for its gun violence. It is the third most populous city in the United States with 2.7 million residents.

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