President Donald Trump asked, “What the hell is going on Chicago?” in the wake of news that at least three homicides have already ushered in the New Year in a city that imposes some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
According to police, the first homicide of the New Year happened around 2:20 a.m. Monday, when a 51-year-old man driving a Toyota Camry was shot in the back, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Several hours later, 29-year-old Brenda Ramos was found in the basement of a Park West neighborhood apartment suffering from blunt trauma to the head. She was pronounced dead at 11:22 a.m. Monday, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s officer.
The year’s third homicide took place at around 5 p.m. Monday in the Fuller Park neighborhood, police said. John Harris, 34, was pronounced dead at the scene after he was shot several times in the neck while behind the wheel of a car on the South Side.
No arrests have been made in the three attacks.
News of the deaths came the same day the Chicago Police Department released statistics showing the number of homicides fell from 771 in 2016 to 650 last year. The number of shootings dropped from 3,550 to 2,785 during the same period.
Despite the drop, in a repeat of 2016, the homicides still eclipsed the number of killings in New York City and Los Angeles combined.
Still, the drops — and the reasons behind the lower numbers — have police and others optimistic that some of their efforts will lead to more declines over the next year. Chief among those efforts will be the expansion of the high-tech strategies and equipment to fight crime, including devices that pinpoint where gunshots are fired.
“I am proud of the progress our officers made in reducing gun violence all across the city in 2017,” Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson in a statement. “In 2018, we are going to work to build on the progress we made last year — to reduce gun violence to save lives and to find justice for victims.”