Reporting Jay Levine
(CBS) – Thursday night’s mass shooting at a Back of the Yards park has given image-conscious Chicago its latest black eye.
The incident, in which 13 people were wounded, including a 3-year-old boy, made headlines across the nation. Opinions about the city are filling up Twitter pages from coast to coast.
So how are Chicago officials handling the fallout?
Very carefully, reports CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.
Their priorities: Comforting the victims and their families, and catching those responsible, while at the same time trying to reassure Chicagoans that the city’s crime-fighting strategy is working.
“We’ve got more than 500 less gunshot victims in this city right now than we had last year,” Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said during a news conference.
McCarthy concedes that’s little comfort to the 13 wounded at Cornell Square Park at Wood and West 51st Thursday night.
True, there’s been a big drop in the murder rate. Last year, more people were killed here – 500, compared to 419 in New York, which has 3 times as many people. So far this year, the figures are reversed, with fewer killed in Chicago — 228 to New York’s 233.
Yet this morning’s headlines were reminiscent of those the city is trying to live down.
Mayor Emanuel had to rush back from Washington to visit the wounded 3-year-old’s family. Pastor Corey Brooks was in the room at the time.
“It was a very touching meeting and much appreciated,” he says.
At a peace rally Friday evening, Emanuel addressed the youngest victims impacted by gun violence.
“Last night is too frequent and too familiar for some children in Chicago. That has to come to an end. We cannot allow children in the city of Chicago, and we will not allow the children in the city of Chicago, to have their youthfulness, their optimism, their hope taken from them. That’s what gun violence does. That is wrong,” he said.
Emanuel would not take questions from reporters. He left his police superintendent to handle the tough questions about whether Chicago was really making progress in the war on gangs and guns.
“Every time somebody is shot in this city it’s a setback,” McCarthy told Levine. “Every time something happens, we suffer a setback. The fact is we’re doing better, the fact is we have a long way to go.”
McCarthy said a military-style assault weapon was involved in Thursday’s shooting. He again called for curbs on the weapons, which are emerging in Chicago shootings.
Five men were wounded in Uptown last month – one later died – in a shooting in which an assault rifle was used.
“A military-grade weapon on the streets of Chicago is simply unacceptable. This kind of shocks the consciousness,” McCarthy said.