NEW: "There comes a time when this has to stop," Chicago police superintendent says of gun violence
A gunman in passing vehicle wounds a baby, kills his mother and grandmother, police say
Shooting occurs on a day that new FBI stats show Chicago's murder count barely changed
The top cop of Chicago expressed blunt outrage Tuesday after a shooting wounded an infant and killed the child’s mother and grandmother, as they returned home from a family outing Monday night.
“Here we go again,” Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy told reporters. “I’m furious that children and expectant mothers and public servants … are becoming victims of senseless gun violence in this city.
“I’ve been here for 4½ years, and we’ve had the same conversation over and over again. What is that we have to do to turn this around? Well, we have to hold criminals accountable,” he said.
It’s becoming a familiar national story: Chicago is racking up another annual murder count that’s far above the nation’s other biggest cities.
It’s why Chicago is often called “Chiraq.”
Chief likens self to Don Quixote
In 2012, Chicago was described as the “murder capital” of the United States because the city registered more homicides than any other city, with 503 murders.
That trend continued Monday, as the FBI released its 2014 statistics that showed Chicago’s 411 murders – more than New York’s 333 murders and Los Angeles’ 260 murders, even though Chicago has a smaller population than those cities. In fact, the FBI figures showed that Chicago’s murder count barely changed from the prior year
Houston, the fourth-largest U.S. city, reported 242 murders in 2014, the FBI said.
Chicago’s continuing violence shows that 2015 could see even more homicides than last year, according to a recent tally by the Chicago Tribune.
“Chicago has got to wake up. We’ve got to stop saying it’s OK to have 30, 40, 50 people shot over the weekend: ‘Oh, look, they’re setting a record,’ ” McCarthy said.
“The No. 1 issue in the city of Chicago should be gun violence,” the superintendent said.
At another point, McCarthy publicly wondered if he were like Don Quixote chasing windmills.
“I apologize for my frustration and for my anger. But there comes a time when this has to stop.”
Cops rush wounded baby in squad car
“We believe they are an innocent group who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” McCarthy said of the Monday shooting.
No arrests have been made, but police believe gang rivalry is behind the shooting, McCarthy said.
Heightening the drama, Officers John Conneely and Michael Modzelewski broke police protocol that typically discourages police officers from removing victims from a crime scene: They put the 11-month-old boy into their squad car and rushed him to a hospital, where the infant was in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.
“It was a split-second decision,” Modzelewski told reporters. He sat in the back seat applying pressure to the crying baby’s gun wound.
“When we arrived on the scene, it was very chaotic, people yelling and screaming,” said Conneely, who drove the cruiser. “We made a decision to try to get this child to the hospital.”
The two officers are now credited with saving the baby’s life.
“It’s undescribable,” Conneely said. “It’s a good feeling to know that the child was going to be OK.”
“It’s a great feeling. I’m not quite sure it’s fully set in yet,” Modzelewski said.
Chicago Deputy Chief Roy praised the officers, saying they “made the right call” and the city is very proud of their actions.
Gunfire upon the generations
But the baby’s mother, who was reportedly pregnant, and grandmother didn’t survive the shooting and were declared dead upon arrival at the hospital, police said.
“In a second, two generations of that child’s family was wiped out,” Roy said.
Relatives identified the mother as Patricia Chew, her son as Princeton Chew, and the grandmother as Lolita Wells, CNN affiliate WBBM reported. The station reported the mother was two months pregnant, but Roy declined to comment on that report.
The mother was believed to be age 23, and the grandmother 46, Roy said.
Gunfire from a vehicle carrying at least one gunman struck the family and two men accompanying them as the five of them stepped out of their own vehicle, Roy said.
The two wounded men, both in their 20s, were hospitalized Monday evening, Roy said.
In all, there were five murders in Chicago on Monday, at least one of which is also being investigated as gang activity, McCarthy said.
A high number of gun-related arrests
McCarthy expressed frustration because Chicago police are posting 25% more gun-related arrests this year.
In fact, Chicago has more gun arrests than any city in the country, by a ratio 7-to-1 over New York City and 3-to-1 over Los Angeles, McCarthy said.
Yet, Chicago’s gun violence continued to produce a high number of homicides.
McCarthy blamed a criminal justice system that doesn’t put or keep the worst offenders behind bars.
He also cited how a gang culture forces members to hold on to their guns – even when chased by police. Gang members also need their gun when they pass through rival territory.
“If you lose that gun, you got a problem because your own gang is going to beat the heck out of you,” McCarthy said.
A mayor barely holding his rage
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel couldn’t contain himself about the latest carnage.
“I’m going to try to control my anger. We have way too many guns on the streets of the city of Chicago, with too little values, and the penalties that don’t match the values of the city of Chicago,” he told reporters.
“That gang bangers can get access to guns at will, without a value system, and without a sense of consequences and penalties, to indiscriminately shoot at a car with a grandmother, a mother, a child, and two individuals – it happens with a frequency that is unacceptable,” the mayor said.
“Wherever you live, you should be able to get out of your car and go to your home,” Emanuel said. “If I say anything more, I’ll probably regret what I am going to say, because I am angry at what happened here, and I think I speak for everybody who believes enough is enough.”
At the shooting scene
A relative of the victims in the Monday shooting said the violence is overwhelming in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood, where the crime occurred.
“We’ve been here, my mother’s been here 50 years. This is all we know. It’s shooting everywhere. It’s shooting everywhere. They just need to stop. They’re killing innocent people. They’re killing our kids,” Monique Williams told WBBM. “It’s very hard. My kids (are) scared to death. My kids can’t even go to school. They can’t function.”
CNN’s Michael Martinez wrote and reported from Los Angeles, and Bill Kirkos from Chicago. Dave Stewart and John Newsome also contributed to this report from Atlanta.