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August Was Chicago's Deadliest Month in Nearly 20 Years

Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said 15 percent of the victims of violence so far this year were "the good people of Chicago"



    Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson sat down with NBC 5's Zoraida Sambolin to discuss how the city plans to curb violence after the month of August left 90 dead and more than 470 shooting victims. It was the deadliest month in the city since October of 1997. (Published Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016)

    The month of August ended as the deadliest Chicago has seen in two decades, and while Chicago's top cop claims "the solution is right in front of our faces," he said it isn't the national guard.

    The last 31 days saw 384 shooting incidents with 472 shooting victims and 90 homicides, the most killings in one month since June 1996, which also saw 90 homicides.

    "I'm sick and tired of it and everybody in Chicago should be sick and tired of it," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said before repeating his claims that the violence in the city is perpetuated by repeat gun offenders. 

    "I have to keep going back to the fact that the entire city of Chicago is not at risk for these types of things," he said. 

    Johnson, who is working with local officials to draft a bill that would encourage higher sentencings for repeat gun offenders, said just 15 percent of the victims of violence so far this year were "the good people of Chicago." 

    The remaining 85 percent were "the same group of people that choose that lifestyle."

    The spiking violence numbers have prompted calls for city officials to bring in the national guard.

    "We have the fire of violence and gunfire, we have the flood of blood in our streets and we have communities that look like third world countries, look like it must have had a tornado that hit it or a hurricane," outspoken priest Father Michael Pfleger said during a rally at his South Side church Wednesday. "You can’t tell people to take pride in your neighborhood when your neighborhood looks like it's been abandoned and it’s not part of the United States of America."

    But Johnson, along with Gov. Bruce Rauner, have denied that the national guard will help the situation in Chicago. 

    "They’re not trained to deal with domestic issues like this," Johnson said. "They don’t have arrest powers, there’s just too much that could go into that that I don’t think would benefit us."

    Rauner said the idea "wouldn't make sense," adding that "no thoughtful leader thinks that's a good idea or would really provide a solution."

    He said his team has analyzed and discussed the idea, but, "in fact, it may exacerbate the other problems. So, nobody thinks that's a good idea."

    According to Chicago police statistics, there have been 2,346 shooting incidents and more than 470 homicides so far this year. That's more killings than New York City and Los Angeles combined.

    Authorities have blamed access to illegal guns, repeat offenders and not enough penalties for gun offenses for the city’s rising number of shootings.

    "The solution is right in front of our faces, we just have to make a choice to deal with it," Johnson said, noting that several cities have stricter penalties for gun offenders than Chicago.

    "All I’m asking for is to hold the repeat gun offenders. I’m not trying to cast a net over the city of Chicago but the guys that continually show us that they don’t respect the rules those are the ones we should go after," he added. 

    The city’s violence has been spotlighted nationwide, with comments from celebrities including Donald TrumpKanye West and Jabari Parker.

    Over the weekend, Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade spoke out about the city’s crime after his cousin, Nykea Aldridge, was fatally shot while pushing a stroller on the city’s South Side.

    "The city of Chicago is hurting. We need more help& more hands on deck. Not for me and my family but for the future of our world. The YOUTH!" Wade tweeted Saturday morning.

    Aldridge was among 10 people killed over the weekend. More than 50 others were wounded in shootings across the city.

    But while Johnson said legislation is "one part of the solution," he noted it isn't the only answer.

    "Let’s face it, the violence in Chicago is not a police issue it’s societal ills that are driving a lot of this, but unfortunately law enforcement has nothing to do with that," he said.