CHICAGO — Families and officials are calling for justice Monday after 87 people were shot and 17 killed, including two children, over a violent Fourth of July weekend in Chicago.
The youngest among the many victims was 7-year-old Natalie Wallace, who was shot in the head while playing outside her grandma’s house during a Fourth of July celebration in south Austin.
Police arrested a 33-year-old man in connection with her murder on Monday.
“You gotta stop this killing… these are innocent kids. She was only 7 years old. She always said, ‘I love you,'” her great-aunt Shelley Fulton said.
From late Thursday night to Sunday evening, more than 87 people were shot, including 13 children, police said. A majority of the violence happened late Saturday into early Sunday, including several incidents where shooters fired into crowds of people.
Saturday night, four men fired into a crowd watching fireworks at 61st and Carpenter, wounding eight people and killing four, including 14-year-old Vernando Jones, Jr.
Police said there are several leads in Vernado’s death, but so far, no one is in custody.
“I sincerely pray on behalf of a grieving city that you are able to recognize the consequences of what you’ve done. The souls that you have ruptured,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.
Tragically, 9 children have been killed over the last three weekends in Chicago due to gun violence.
“To those families, I promise you, the CPD is working hard, risking everything for you, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said at a news conference Monday. “We will leverage every resource at our disposal, but also prevent it from happening ever again.”
Chicago was already in the midst of a surge in gun violence prior to the holiday weekend, and 1,200 additional officers were deployed, focused on cleaning up drug corners. Facing questions over their strategy Lightfoot said, “we have to do more as a city.”
Victim’s advocate Andrew Holmes sees the pain in each family impacted, but says the solution isn’t more policing.
“These strategies have been done over and over again before,” Holmes said. “We need to get to the root of the problem. Get deep inside of these homes… block by block, house by house, and find out the help they need.”
At Monday’s news conference, Brown said Chicago cannot “police its way out” of this gun violence problem. He said the lack of community resources, and violent offenders being released back into the community, are major factors in this crisis.
He also said the city’s electronic monitoring system is broken.
“We can not allow this to be normalized in the city,” Brown said. “We can not get used to hearing about children gunned down in the city.”
So much raw emotions were flowing this weekend, as families mourn, and those who respond to these shootings, reach their breaking point.
“This is week in, week out. We gotta get to the…the root of this problem,” said crisis responder Andrew Holmes.