Amid controversy over President Donald Trump’s intentions to send federal agents to Chicago to manage the slew of shootings and violent crime, 15 people were shot and wounded at a funeral home on the city’s South Side Tuesday night. The shootings only add to an increasing amount of violence seen throughout the city over the past several months, which officials are struggling to handle.
Chicago police said the shooting at Gresham Funeral Home was retaliatory in nature, according to the Chicago Tribune. Attendees at the funeral exchanged gunfire with a group of men in a vehicle driving by the location. The victims were hit while standing outside of the building.
Police said 14 victims were being treated for various injuries at five Chicago area hospitals; one was treated at the scene.
“These victims were all wounded when shots were fired as family members and friends gathered to grieve the loss of a loved one who was killed in a drive-by shooting,” said police Supt. David Brown during a news conference. “The cycle of violence in Chicago, someone gets shot, which prompts someone else to pick up a gun. This same cycle repeats itself over and over and over again. This cycle is fueled by street gangs, guns and drugs.”
Police said the shooting took place at the funeral of a 31-year-old man who was shot to death in Chicago’s Englewood community last week. They also said the links to gangs have heightened their fears that angry people could seek retribution.
“This is an ongoing gang conflict where individuals are shooting at each other, and obviously those individuals then have no interest in cooperating with police,” said CPD chief of detectives, Brendan Deenihan.
Despite Mayor Lori Lighfoot’s recent letter to the President rejecting the notion of sending federal agents into Chicago as the result of violent crime in the city, the Trump Administration is deploying 150 of the agents this weekend. Lightfoot had feared the situation would devolve into something similar to what has escalated in Portland, Ore., where unidentified federal personnel have been seen on video taking people into custody off the street.
Even though her strongly worded letter balks at Trump’s intentions to send the troops, Lightfoot will now reportedly accept the troops presence, and says they will work in cooperation with the Chicago Police, according to local station WGN.
Meanwhile, as South Side residents continue to deal with out of control gun violence in their community, little has been said about the possibility of having a federal presence in their city.
“To me, this is no different. It’s nothing new. It’s been going on since the 80s, 90s,” Teresa Wilson, 44, who attended the funeral and whose friend was one of the persons wounded told the Tribune. She said the police could have done a better job with crowd control. “It could’ve been better controlled, they should’ve called people for back up before it escalated.
“It’s horrible they did this. My friend was shot out here,” she continued. “Because of this COVID, we can’t even check on our friend and be supportive.”
The Tribune reported that Chicago is seeing more violence than it has in quite some time. Through Sunday (July 19), homicides were up 51 percent at 414 in comparison with 275 homicides at the same time in 2019. Shootings alone were up 27 percent.
In the 28-day period through Sunday, at least 116 people were killed in Chicago, up from 40 the same period last year.
The funeral shooting is not unprecedented. In December, the Tribune reports, 13 were wounded at a memorial gathering also in the Englewood community that was in remembrance of a man killed in a prior shooting. Over the past couple of years, shootings at vigils and memorials have happened more often.
“It’s so real, that lack of caring for life,” said Terence Daniely at the time. “It’s reckless, just reckless. How does it continually happen? When is it going to stop?”
Lightfoot called the people who opened fire on the funeral on Tuesday “cowardly” and demanded their apprehension.
“We cannot give shelter to killers. People know who are responsible,” she said. “Too many guns are on our streets and in the hands of people who should never possess them. These individuals will be held accountable.”