CHICAGO — Chicago police believe a 20-month-old boy was shot and killed over the weekend by someone who was targeting his father and mistakenly thought the man was in a car when they opened fire on the South Side, hitting the child in the back seat and grazing his mother.
The city’s chief of detectives said Monday that police have a description of the gunman’s car but have no one in custody for the death of Sincere Gaston in Englewood.
Police officials also reported little progress in the death of the second-youngest victim of gun violence over the weekend, 10-year-old Lena Marie Nunez, who was hit by a bullet inside her home in Logan Square when gang members a block away fired at rivals.
In this shooting too, police said they have a description of a car in the attack but no one in custody.
“You have a 1-year-old and a 10-year-old killed for no reason at all,” Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said at a news conference at police headquarters.
He called on the public to come forward. “We’re going to need the help of the community,” he said.
Police Superintendent David Brown said he struggles to make sense of the level of violence Chicago has seen every weekend since the end of May. This past weekend, at least 18 people were killed and another 48 were wounded. The previous weekend, at least 106 people were shot in Chicago, 14 of them fatally.
For the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, typically the most violent time in Chicago, the department plans to deploy 1,200 more officers on the street. For the same holiday weekend last year, the city deployed 1,500 officers.
“I struggle to make sense of the reckless gun violence that continues to take the lives of our young people,” Brown said, mentioning several times that he has been on the job just eight weeks. “We all need to be outraged. I am pleading, please help us bring these murderers to justice. We cannot do this alone.”
Brown complained that too many people are being released from jail on gun and drug charges, either on electronic monitoring or through low bonds. “When they have no consequence, violence continues.”
At a later news conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she woke up the past two Mondays with an “incredible sense of dread, incredible feeling of despair because of the weekend violence.”
“What causes me the greatest heartache as a mayor, as a mother, just as a human being, is seeing our babies being killed — 1-year-old, 17-year-old, 3-year-old. A 10-year-old,” Lightfoot said. “This can’t be who we are as a city.”
She added: “Dear God, and dear Chicago, we have to do better than what we’re seeing.”
The mayor reiterated that the city’s problem has no simple answers or simple solutions but must be addressed by residents and government alike. Lightfoot spoke at a news conference unveiling grants of $4 million to a community group in Auburn Gresham on the South Side and $7 million to another in North Lawndale.
“It’s not enough for a mayor or a police superintendent or city government,” Lightfoot said. “Each of us has to ask ourselves, what more can we do every single days in our lives to wrap our arms around these children and I don’t mean just the victims, I mean the shooters as well. What do we need to do to reach them, to give them hope and love and have them recognize the sanctity of human life?”
Chicago’s killers “aren’t strangers coming into our communities,” Lightfoot added.
In the first six months of the year, Chicago has experienced a large spike in shootings and homicides over the same time last year.
Through last Sunday, the city saw a jump of more than 25% in the number of homicides, reaching 295, which is 60 more than the same period a year ago, according to a review of crime statistics. Ninety-six of those occurred during a 28-day stretch that covered most of June, the statistics show.
On Saturday afternoon, police say Sincere was sitting in the back seat of a car driven by his mother when a gray Infiniti pulled alongside in the 6100 block of South Halsted Street. Someone inside fired at least seven times, hitting the boy in the chest.
They were southbound on Halsted Street near 60th Street when someone in another car pulled alongside and fired seven or eight times, Waller said. The baby, who was in a back car seat, was shot once in the chest, and his mom, about 22, was grazed in the head.
The mother sped away to a gas station, and from there a good Samaritan drove her to St. Bernard Hospital and Health Care Center, where the baby was pronounced dead at 3:02 p.m., according to a police report.
Hours later, Lena Marie Nunez and her 8-year-old cousin were sitting in the front room of an apartment when a man fired several shots in the alley down the block, police said. Lena was hit in the head and her cousin was struck by glass.
Deenihan said it appears gang members were gathered outside her home and rivals shot at them, hitting only the girl as she sat in the front room of an apartment.
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