Over Holiday Weekend, Dozens Shot In Chicago; At Least 11 Killed

Dec 26, 2016
Originally published on December 26, 2016 6:35 pm

Dozens of people were shot in Chicago over the holiday weekend, with at least 11 fatalities — including seven fatal shootings on Christmas Day, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Two brothers, James and Roy Gill, were killed at a Christmas party; five other people were wounded in that shooting.

It's a grim tally, coming at the end of a difficult, violent year in Chicago, as NPR's Frank Morris reports.

Morris notes that there have been more than 740 homicides in Chicago so far this year — the last time the city topped 700 homicides was in 1998.

"But the spike in nonfatal shootings this year has been even worse," he reports. "The number of people surviving gunshot wounds is up almost 50 percent from last year."

Susan Johnson runs Chicago Survivors — a group that contracts with the city to provide counseling services, among other things, to the families of murder victims.

She tells Morris it's been a tough, "terribly busy" year.

"We have a traumatized city," she says. She says people are living "hair-trigger," with anger issues "as a result of living in trauma and in violence."

Morris reports:

"Johnson says minor disputes often set bullets flying, in a city with rampant illegal gun trafficking, and lots of young, disorganized gangs. And she says the awful injustice of homicide can traumatize whole families, who tend to 'cocoon' after shootings, with especially troubling consequences for the children.

" 'Fear is a big part of the aftermath of a homicide, and so many families are afraid to send their children outside anymore,' [Johnson says]."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This was a violent Christmas weekend in Chicago. Dozens of people were shot, and at least 11 have died. This caps off a very violent year in the city, as NPR's Frank Morris reports.

FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: The shooting started Friday afternoon and went on through last night. This morning, it was all over local news. Here's NBC 5 Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It was a frightening scene - a family gathering turned to tragedy in an instant. Police say the victims were at a Christmas party at a home at 86 and Maryland when someone in a gray hoodie jumped out of an alley and just started shooting.

MORRIS: That shooting killed two brothers, James and Roy Gill, and wounded five other people. Harrowing as the news has been to watch on TV, it's a little closer for Susan Johnson.

SUSAN JOHNSON: I receive a text message every time someone is murdered in this city.

MORRIS: Johnson runs Chicago Survivors, a team of 16 people who work on contract with the city to provide counseling and other services to every murder victim's family.

JOHNSON: A terribly busy year for us. We were budgeted at about 600 homicides. And as you've seen, we're up over 740 now. So it's been a very tough year for us.

MORRIS: Chicago hasn't topped 700 homicides since 1998, but the spike in non-fatal shootings this year has been even worse. The number of people surviving gunshot wounds is up almost 50 percent from last year. Chicago's become the country's most dangerous big city, and Johnson says the violence perpetuates itself.

JOHNSON: We have a traumatized city in which people with anger issues as a result of living in trauma and in violence themselves are now the perpetrators of violence.

MORRIS: Johnson says minor disputes often set bullets flying in a city with rampant illegal gun trafficking and lots of young, disorganized gangs. And she says the awful injustice of homicide can traumatize whole families who tend to cocoon after shootings, with especially troubling consequences for the children.

JOHNSON: Fear is a big part of the aftermath of a homicide, and so many families are afraid to send their children outside anymore. And there's a lot that's said about children not playing outside, but it also is a factor in returning to school.

MORRIS: When kids do return to their studies, they do it fighting a head full of troubling thoughts and memories. Johnson says she hopes for a bump in funding next year to meet rising demand. Frank Morris, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.