Chicago gang violence shows no signs of stopping
(CBS News) CHICAGO - There is a war going on -- not overseas, but right here on the streets of America. A gang war has taken over parts of Chicago.
Over the weekend, 14 people were shot. Two were killed.
So far this year, there have been more than 2,364 shootings and 487 homicides.
CBS News National Correspondent Dean Reynolds rode along with Commander Leo Schmitz of Chicago Police Department's 7th district. The area is a gang-related swath of the city's South Side. They started to drive as children were leaving school for the day.
"When you have them coming out of school, and there's any kind of gang conflicts, you've got a mix like fire and gasoline," Schmitz said.
The gangs are fighting a war over turf, drugs and money.
"It's crazy," he said. "What used to be a fist fight now turns into, 'Let's go to the guns,'" Schmitz said.
Shooting deaths are up 20 percent in the city this year, though in the 7th district Schmitz and his team have managed to cut homicides by 30 percent.
He credits better intelligence from informants, increased patrols and a citywide crime-tracking database.
"We use the knowledge," Schmitz said. "So, if there's a shooting right here, we know that the retaliation will be a block down."
The police gave us a bulletproof vest for the trip, and within minutes it because crystal clear why.
A block away, a man walking was a target. The suspect was fleeing the scene.
"He done shot at me right here!" the man said.
The commander and his men ran down the suspected shooter, 21-year-old Julian Gayles. Police think the shooting was probably gang-related.
The police also received the weapon. Schmitz described it as a 9mm Beretta.
"If you can see the hammer's already (up)," he said. "That means he just shot it."
Chicago has seized more guns this year than New York and Los Angeles combined. The violence is so bad that the heavily armed police now attend gang funerals to prevent revenge killings. Schmitz said he doesn't just want to maintain a level of clam.
"I want to win," Schmitz said. "So, we're going to always try to do better than we did before."
It didn't get much better this weekend. Among the victims was an off-duty cop.
- Dean Reynolds
Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.
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