Summer came early to Chicago—or rather, the high violence numbers that typically occur during the summer arrived early this year. Homicides are up 44 percent from January through May compared with the same period last year, based on a RedEye analysis of preliminary police data.
Chicago recorded 208 homicides in the first five months of the year, versus the 144 homicides the city logged during the same time last year, RedEye data found. Shooting fatalities were up nearly 47 percent while homicides by stabbing nearly doubled compared with last year.
The homicides took the greatest toll on victims in their 20s—56 of the victims from January through May last year were in their 20s while 103 victims were in their 20s during the same period this year.
As typically is the case, the South and West sides saw the most homicides. Woodlawn on the South Side was hit particularly hard.
The community area, which runs from King Drive to Lake Michigan and from 60th to 67th streets, logged 12 homicides in the first five months of the year compared with five during the same time last year.
Many of the homicides occurred in the western part of the community, west of the Cottage Grove stop on the East 63rd branch on the Green Line.
"Based on the intelligence information we have, we have seen a larger number of gangs being developed and organized," said Ald. Willie Cochran, whose 20th Ward includes Woodlawn. "I will not let my community continue to go through this. ... We are going to take hard lines on every aspect that we think is contributing to this, from bad landlords to bad character."
One plan under consideration for that area is additional manpower from CeaseFire, an anti-violence group based on the Near West Side that focuses on preventing conflicts from escalating. Last month, Mayor Emanuel announced the Police Department would work with CeaseFire, which said it has been promised $1.5 million in city funding—the first time the group has received money from the city.
CeaseFire Illinois Director Tio Hardiman said he plans to use the money to target three police districts that serve the areas of Woodlawn, Roseland and North Lawndale (which saw 12 homicides in the first five months of the year compared with two during the same time last year).
Hardiman said he would like to hire 15 to 20 workers for Woodlawn, which currently has two violence interrupters who walk the streets and attempt to stop arguments. Meanwhile, the Chicago Police say they are honing their anti-violence strategy by improving their intelligence on gangs and guns used in multiple crimes.
If winter and spring are any indication, Chicago may face a violent summer. Fifty homicides were recorded in both March and May this year, according to RedEye data. Summer typically is the only time Chicago sees months with that high of a tally. Last year, only one month logged 50 or more homicides: July, which recorded 55 homicides, RedEye data shows.
"I think we can at least break even this year [compared to last year] but it's going to be hard," Hardiman said.
HOMICIDES BY THE NUMBERS
There were 208 homicides from January through May this year, a 44 percent increase compared with 144 homicides during the same period last year. RedEye looks at where, when and how these homicides occurred in the first five months of the year versus the same period last year.
2012 homicides by month
2011 homicides by month
2012 homicide victims by gender
2011 homicide victims by gender
2012 homicide victims by race
2011 homicide victims by race
NOTE: Medical examiner categorizes victims as white or white/Hispanic
2012 homicide victims by age
12 and under: 4
40 and above: 33
2011 homicide victims by age
12 and under: 2
40 and above: 27
2012 homicides by cause of death
Assault/child abuse/trauma: 6
Auto crash: 2
2011 homicides by cause of death
Assault/child abuse/trauma: 11
Auto crash: 3
Community areas with the most homicides in 2012
North Lawndale: 12
Chicago Lawn: 10
South Lawndale: 9
West Englewood: 9
New City: 8
South Shore: 8
Community areas with the most homicides in 2011
Humboldt Park: 11
Greater Grand Crossing: 9
West Englewood: 8
South Lawndale: 7
East Garfield Park: 5
The deadliest day from January through May 2012 was Feb. 19, when six homicides occurred.
The deadliest day from January through May 2011 was May 30, when five homicides occurred.
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