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Published On: Tue, Jul 7th, 2015

Chicago’s weekend death toll rises to 15, over 80 injured as Confederate flag debate distracts the public

Authorities have updated the reported violence in Chicago over the holiday weekend, which once again garnered national attention after more than 80 people were shot, at least 15 of them fatally.

“It’s Groundhog Day in Chicago,” Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said on Monday.

McCarthy then ran through a list of the shootings, focusing on the guns the alleged offenders had, providing an overview of their criminal pasts.

“He shouldn’t have been on the street,” McCarthy repeated several times while talking about the alleged offenders. “It all comes down to guns. Too many guns coming in, too little punishment going out.”

photo JRLibby

photo JRLibby

McCarthy said many armed Chicago gang members will not surrender themselves or their weapons when pursued by police because they fear repercussions from their leaders, hinting that the police and prison is the “lesser of the two evils” in their eyes.

“They would rather save that gun than to lose that gun and go back and say I lost that gun,” community activist Andrew Holmes said.

During the news conference McCarthy cited the events spanning Thursday to Monday which left 82 shot and how Chicago police officers were threatened or shot at and returned fire.

Police wounded five people, killing two of them, in those shootings.

“Officers do not relish using a weapon in the course of their work. But when they find themselves in confrontations… they must do what is best to protect themselves and the public,” he said.

McCarthy became noticeably emotional when talking about how officers put their lives on their line every day.

Pedro Rios Jr., 14, was shot and killed by Chicago police after allegedly pointing a 44-magnum at an officer.

“My son was a good child, I don’t know why he changed,” said his mother Laura Rios.

“A lot of people will say where were the police and what were the police doing? And that’s a fair question, but not the only question. Where are the parents?” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, addressing the questions over the ongoing gun violence which plagues the city.

Pedro Rios’ parents reported him missing two weeks ago. A relative says the family was increasingly concerned about the crowd he was running with.

“A parent does what they can do at home. A kid leaves and you have these gang bangers standing around waiting to clip these kids up and do their dirty work,” said Susan Diaz, whose relative was shot by police.

“These officers are putting their lives on the line. Does anybody realize what we’re talking about here? There are guns, they kill people!” said McCarthy.

Police said most of the shootings took place on the city’s South Side, but Emanuel repeated his mantra that violence is a citywide issue on Monday.

“The gun violence that was part of this weekend was totally unacceptable to every resident from the city of Chicago regardless of where they lift,” Emanuel said. “Where are the parents? Where are the communities? Where are the gun laws?”

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk wants the federal government to help investigate the shootings in Chicago.

“We’re announcing soon a goal to track, to provide federal ballistics on every gun crime in Chicago,” Kirk said.

In 2013, 12 people were killed and nearly 75 injured during the four-day holiday weekend.

Gun owners point to Chicago strict gun laws as a problem since the city ranks among the worst in the nation.

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