Mass shootings swept the country over the weekend, leaving law enforcement officials in several cities concerned over increases in gun incidents and fearful that the summer could turn out to be particularly violent as coronavirus restrictions are rolled back.
In Chicago, a woman was killed and nine others were wounded Saturday (July 12) when two men fired at a group standing on a sidewalk on the city’s South Side, the Associated Press reports. No arrests have been made. In a similar incident in Savannah, Ga., a man was killed and seven others wounded including two children, one of them a baby, when a person in a vehicle fired at a group of people. Police believe the shooting may stem from a conflict between two groups.
“It’s very disturbing what we’re seeing across the country and the level of gun violence that we’re seeing across the country,” Savannah police chief, Roy Minter, Jr., told reporters on Saturday. “It’s disturbing and it’s senseless.”
Other cities that experienced mass shootings over the weekend included Austin, Tex., where one person was killed and 13 injured in that early Saturday incident. A juvenile was arrested and another individual is being sought by police, according to the Austin American Statesman; and Cleveland, where three men were killed during a shooting at a gas station. Four others were injured, reports WOIO.
Throughout much of the nation, coronavirus pandemic restrictions are being relaxed and public health and law enforcement expert who are watching the rollbacks had hoped that a spike in gun violence from 2020 would subside. However, the rates of shootings have become higher than they were before the onset of the pandemic, the AP reports.
“There was a hope this might simply be a statistical blip that would start to come down,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum told the AP. “That hasn’t happened. And that’s what really makes chiefs worry that we may be entering a new period where we will see a reversal of 20 years of declines in these crimes.”
The Gun Violence Archive, a website that takes records of shootings nationwide says there have been 272 mass shootings so far in 2021 and 15 mass murders. More than 8,700 people have been killed in gun incidents. In 2020 there were 600, higher than the previous six years the website recorded. But officials are now worried that the emergence of people out of coronavirus lockdown and the mental breakdowns that came with it could make those numbers even worse.
“It’s worrisome,” said James Alan Fox, Northwestern University criminologist and professor, told the AP. “We have a blend of people beginning to get out and about in public. We have lots of divisiveness. And we have more guns and warm weather. It’s a potentially deadly mix.”