38 shot — 5 fatally — as Chicago weekend gun violence more than doubles before Christmas
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38 shot — 5 fatally — as Chicago weekend gun violence more than doubles before Christmas

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Chicago Shooting

Chicago police guard a crime scene in the 5700 block of S. May Street in Chicago after several people were shot there on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune via AP)

CHICAGO — At least five people were killed and 33 others were wounded in Chicago shootings the weekend before Christmas in a sharp spike of gun violence compared to earlier this month.

Shootings happened on blocks as far north as the Rogers Park neighborhood, as as far south as the Fernwood neighborhood and as far west as the Austin neighborhood. No shootings were reported downtown or on the Near North Side. The most violent area was the Englewood district, which saw 15 people shot this weekend -- nearly all from a single shooting incident. Ages of gunshot victims citywide ranged from a 15-year-old boy who was wounded to a 55-year-old man who was killed.

The toll was more than double last weekend’s, when 16 people were shot, 2 of them fatally.

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Though Chicago is poised to end its third consecutive year with double-digit declines -- through mid-December, homicides fell almost 14% while the total number of people shot dropped nearly 11% -- the weekend led to renewed pledges from politicians to tackle the city’s gun violence after 13 people were shot, four critically, at an Englewood memorial party.

“We can’t normalize this kind of behavior and tragedy in this city,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters Sunday afternoon outside University of Chicago Medical Center, adding, “Solving disputes with a gun is never the right answer.”

The violence began about 12:40 a.m. Sunday at a house party in the 5700 block of South May Street commemorating the birthday of a man who died in a previous shooting. Someone at the party opened fire seemingly randomly, injuring people ages 16 to 48, according to Fred Waller, who heads the patrol division for Chicago police.

Those wounded were one 16-year-old boy, eight men and four women. As of Sunday afternoon, two of the men remained in critical condition, police said.

It was the largest single shooting in the city since 2013, when 13 people were wounded Sept. 13 at Cornell Square Park in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

The most recent fatal shooting this weekend claimed the life of a 37-year-old man who was standing at a gas station in the Homan Square neighborhood when two gunmen fired at him about 9 p.m. Sunday in the 3300 block of West Harrison Street. He was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital, and a suspect was arrested following a police chase.

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Saturday afternoon, a 41-year-old man was killed in a shooting in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. About 2:18 p.m., he was standing on a corner in the 6000 block of South Fairfield Avenue when someone fired a handgun about 2:20 p.m. He died with gunshot wounds to the back and abdomen at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, police said. The shooter ran east on 60th Street.

Earlier Saturday, a man was fatally shot in the face after someone broke into a residence in Rogers Park. About 4:35 a.m., 55-year-old Albino Vazquez was at a home in the 1600 block of West Morse Avenue when someone kicked in the door and shot him in the face, police said. Vazquez, of the 1000 block of West Hollywood Avenue, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Another man was killed a few hours earlier in a drive-by shooting about 1:30 a.m. in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. Someone in a black sedan fired shots at 27-year-old Dion Bell as he stood on the sidewalk in the 7300 block of South Blackstone Avenue, striking him throughout the body. The resident of the 1400 block of East 74th Street was taken to the University of Chicago Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The weekend’s first fatal shooting happened Friday night in the Austin neighborhood. Antonio Cox, 44, died in his home in the 5100 block of West Ferdinand Street after opening the front door about 9:20 p.m. and being met with a barrage of bullets, one of which struck his head, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The youngest shooting victim this weekend was a 15-year-old boy who, along with a 19-year-old woman, was shot outside Parkway Gardens on the South Side. They were standing on the sidewalk about 10:40 p.m. in the 6500 block of South King Drive when two gunmen walked up and opened fire, wounding the boy in the buttocks and the woman in the left hand and right leg. Their conditions were stabilized at the University of Chicago Hospital, police said.

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