Violent crime continued to rise in Chicago after a deadly July in which 62 people were killed, reports the Chicago Tribune. For the first seven months of 2008, murders rose by 18 percent over the same period in 2007 and by 9 percent for the same period in 2006. The worsening murder numbers come a month after Police Superintendent Jody Weis, in his fifth month in office, came under fire from aldermen for the rise in crime. The catalyst for some of the criticism was a fatal shooting near a popular downtown event called the Taste of Chicago.
If trends from the first seven months continue the rest of the year, Chicago would finish with more than 500 murders for the first time since 2003. That year, Chicago had more than 600 murders. Aggravated batteries with a firearm, another marker of increased violence, also continued to climb, to 1,153 incidents in the first seven months, up 245 from a year earlier. Monique Bond, a police spokeswoman said that some of the increase could be due to gang fights over turf. The majority of homicides in Chicago are gang-related with high percentages of offenders and victims having criminal histories.