By the end of a violent Labor Day weekend, Chicago reached a grim milestone, recording more homicides than the city experienced during all of last year. This tally came with a late surge of gunfire, as police said there were 13 homicides over the Labor Day weekend, most of them on Monday, along with 43 shooting incidents, both numbers that topped those of a year earlier,, the Washington Post reports. By the end of Monday, police said there were 488 homicides this year, more than the 481 killings they logged last year, with nearly four months left in 2016.
The surge in violence on Labor Day came after an average of three people were killed each day in August, marking a particularly brutal stretch in a bloody year. Most of the homicide victims were killed by gunfire. Eddie Johnson, the police superintendent, said the violence was due to repeat offenders in “impoverished neighborhoods” utilizing what he described as an absurd proliferation of guns on the streets. “It’s not a police issue,” Johnson said yesterday. “It’s a society issue … people without hope do these kinds of things.” Police have attributed the spike in gun violence to known, repeat offenders using illegal guns. Johnson again called for tougher penalties for people who commit gun crimes, echoing a plea he has made this summer in the face of the violence. The bloodshed has filled many with fear and anxiety; in survey this year, residents were found as likely to think young people would become victims of a violent crime as graduate from college.