CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago toddler was shot and killed on Tuesday in what police suspect was a “gang hit” on a man in a vehicle with her, just a few days after two young girls were shot in the head. It marked the latest spasm of violence in a city struggling to contain such attacks.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police suspect the man, a well-known gang member with an extensive criminal history, was the target of the shooting that also left a woman wounded.
No other details were released and he said no arrests had been made.
Over the weekend, two girls ages 11 and 12 were shot in the head by gunmen who were aiming at someone else in an area of the city known for heavy gang activity. The Cook County medical examiner’s office says Takiya Holmes, 11, died early Tuesday at Comer Children’s Hospital. The 12-year-old was in critical condition on Monday, but police have not updated her condition since.
The shootings highlight the street gang violence that police say was largely responsible for 762 homicides last year — nearly 300 more than occurred in 2015 — and more than 3,500 shooting incidents. That violence has continued this year, with January ending with 51 homicides, the highest total since January 1999 when there were 55.
Those kinds of numbers help explain why Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office said he will announce on Wednesday in his budget speech a push to fund 200 more state police cadets to patrol Chicago-area expressways. In 2016, there were 51 shootings on those roadways, compared to 37 in 2015. State police have said that the gun violence in the city is spilling onto the expressways.
It is unclear how Illinois can find the money to pay for the new state troopers in the midst of a budget crisis. Rauner’s office would not elaborate.
The violence on the expressways also prompted the Chicago Crime Commission to ask that state and federal officials find the money to purchase a high-tech “expressway video surveillance system.”
“An expressway video surveillance system would be designed to assist law enforcement in identifying and apprehending those responsible for the epidemic of shootings occurring on area expressways,” J.R. Davis, the chairman and president of the commission, said in a statement.