As the nation reeled this weekend from two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio less than 13 hours apart, Chicago had its most violent weekend of gun violence yet this year: 55 people were shot, seven of them fatally, and one hospital’s ER was so overwhelmed it had to close its doors temporarily.
The violence spanned at least 12 different shooting incidents on the west and south sides, starting Friday night when a young boy was shot in the leg as he sat in a car with adults around him arguing. The violence peaked early Sunday on the West Side, with three separate incidents in Douglas Park within a two-hour period, involving a combined 17 victims.
The exact number of incidents over the weekend wasn’t entirely clear. The Chicago PD did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment as of press time.
There were so many victims that Mount Sinai Hospital had to stop taking them for a time. Its emergency room had received 12 shooting victims from Saturday incidents and then went to “bypass” status sometime after midnight, according to local news outlets. “Bypass” refers to when a hospital stops taking new patients in its ER and redirects ambulances to other local trauma centers. Mount Sinai did not clarify the exact time they stopped taking in new patients but said they resumed normal operations at 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
Chicago's top cop, Superintendent Eddie Johnson, on Sunday afternoon addressed the massive spike in shootings. He blamed the violence on disputes between rival gangs across the city, noting why information on the numerous shootings has been scarce.
“Some of our victims have quite honestly been less than forthcoming in cooperating with us,” Johnson said.
Chicago Police chief communications officer Anthony Guglielmi announced on Twitter, however, that local police are getting some federal help as they investigate the recent shootings.
“United States Attorney John Lausch has reached out to us offering the full support of his office and the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] in investigating weekend incidents,” Guglielmi tweeted. “This is on top of the federal prosecutors that are already embedded with CPD and State's Attorneys on the West Side.”
Guglielmi also posted audio from one of the weekend’s incidents.
Chicago Police Capt. Gilbert Calderon said that the department was on top of the weekend’s violence, but their resources were stretched thin due to the sheer volume of incidents across the city.
“We are deploying our personnel in the right locations,” Calderon said Sunday. “However, throughout the night, we had multiple incidents where there was a large gathering. It was very difficult to protect these crime scenes, so we had to leave cars there at the same time we were moving to other ones.”
Chicago has consistently been one of the country’s most violent cities. In June, the city saw its previous record high for 2019, with 52 people shot, 10 of whom died. At least 1,600 people have been shot this year, 300 of them fatally, according to statistics tracked by the Chicago Tribune.
Just last month, two moms who dedicated their lives to combatting gun violence in the city were killed in a drive-by shooting in South Chicago.
On Sunday, Johnson expressed his frustration over not just the gun violence in Chicago but the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso Texas.
“I am frustrated at what’s happening,” Johnson said. “Families are losing loved ones. We are losing friends. What will it take for people to become sick and tired of the level of gun violence in this country?”
Cover: Chicago Police investigate the scene where a man was shot in the 4400 block of South Princeton, in the Fuller Park neighborhood. (Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)