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Murders Up, But Shootings Down Through April

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Murders in Chicago edged up slightly for the start of the year, compared to the first four months of 2013, but the overall number of shooting victims was down slightly.

Police said both numbers are down significantly from 2012, when a spike in gun violence in Chicago sent murders past 500 for the entire year for the first time since 2008.

For the first four months of 2014, there have been 95 murders in Chicago, two more than the same timeframe in 2013, but 59 fewer than the first four months of 2012, according to police. At the same time, there have been 565 shooting victims this year, four fewer than the number of people shot in the first four months of 2013, and 210 fewer than the same timeframe in 2012.

This year’s murder total through April is the second-lowest number through April since 1959, behind only 2013.

“We will continue building on our comprehensive violence reduction strategy, putting more officers in high-crime areas, using new tools to proactively intervene in gang conflicts and developing stronger relationships with community leaders, all of which is backed by the City’s strengthened investments in prevention programs for at-risk youth,” Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said in a written statement. “Yet even with the best policing and strongest prevention efforts in the world, without reasonable laws to help keep illegal guns out of our communities, we’re going to face an uphill battle.”

Since Wednesday afternoon, 11 people have been shot in Chicago, including the first homicide of May.

Around 2 a.m. Thursday, a 34-year-old man was found lying dead on the sidewalk near 81st and Cottage Grove, after police received a call of shots fired. Police said the victim was affiliated with a gang.

About five hours earlier, four people were shot in the South Shore neighborhood when someone inside an SUV opened fire on a group of people walking along the 7300 block of South Phillips Avenue. Two of the victims were in serious condition, one was in fair condition, and the other was in good condition.

Wednesday afternoon, two teenage boys and a 25-year-old man were shot in a drive-by in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. They were standing on a sidewalk in the 2800 block of West Flournoy Street, when someone inside a dark-colored sedan fired shots at them, and fled the scene. All three victims were in good condition.

McCarthy has said the warmer weather in spring and summer does not cause an increase in crime, but does create more opportunity for crime, as there will be more people on the street.

As the weather gets warmer, police will tap into overtime and send more officers to high-crime neighborhoods.

The Chicago Police Department has teamed up with the Chicago Transit Authority, the Chicago Housing Authority, and the Chicago Park District to have more officers patrolling parks, public housing, and public transit this summer. Each agency will contribute to pay the overtime of 100 additional officers on weekdays, 200 on weekends and 300 on holiday weekends.

Dubbed the “Summer Surge Overtime Initiative,” the boost in police patrols will be implemented in stages, and should be fully deployed by June.

In addition, the department already has cancelled days off on weekends for officers in tactical, saturation and gun units. Instead, those officers will be deployed to high-crime districts on weekends, and paid overtime for the extra shifts.