Depending upon which source of information one accepts, there have been as many as 787 homicides so far this year in Chicago, and there are still three full days remaining in 2016 to drive that number higher.
The website “heyjackass.com” put the number at 787, with 707 of those attributed to firearms. CNN reported on Monday that there had been 753 homicides in the city, and 3,495 shootings between Jan. 1 and Dec. 25.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Homicide Watch report, which is updated with each slaying in the Windy City, put the body count at 781. The newspaper noted that this is the largest death toll in 20 years.
From all indications, it looks like Chicago is trying to hit that 800 mark by midnight Saturday.
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There is no small amount of irony in this, considering that back ion Jan. 2, TIME magazine was reporting about the 2015 death toll. It had crept up to 468 slayings last year, which was a 12.5 percent increase from the 416 murders in 2014. TIME quoted the Chicago Tribune, which reported that the city “had the most homicides of all U.S. cities in 2015.”
If one were to go all the way back to 1929, the year of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre launched by mobster Al Capone against rival George “Bugs” Moran, Chicago is many times more violent than in the days of prohibition, Speak Easy nightclubs and the availability of Thompson submachine guns. Nowadays, even The Untouchables might be unable to stop the slaughter.
A Christmas Eve story in the Sun-Times quoting Police Supt. Eddie Johnson revealed that while homicides have skyrocketed, arrests are down this year significantly. Police, according to the newspaper, are “on pace to make about 50,000 arrests citywide” this year, while last year they collared more than 69,000 people.
There is no small amount of irony in Chicago. Despite the 2010 McDonald ruling that obliterated the 30-year gun ban, Chicago still has some pretty strict gun laws. They apparently apply to everyone except the gangs and thugs shooting up the South and West sides.
Supt. Johnson has indicated a majority of the killings and shootings over the Christmas holiday weekend were gang-related. A dozen people were murdered over the weekend.
The carnage in Chicago might emerge as the top gun story of 2016, eclipsing even the surprise victory of Donald Trump over anti-gunner Hillary Rodham Clinton.
No doubt the city would rather remember 2016 as the year the Cubs won the World Series.