CHICAGO (CBS) — In decrying the gun violence that has left several children dead and wounded in the last two weeks, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said open-air drug markets were partially to blame.

Brown urged people to come forward with information to help police catch the “evil, murdering bastards” responsible for the murders of 1-year-old Sincere Gaston in Englewood and 10-year-old Lena Nunez in Logan Square.

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Sincere Gaston, 1, (left) and Lena Nunez, 10, (right) were killed in separate shootings on June 27, 2020. (Source: Legal Help Firm/Family Photo)

“As a dad standing alongside other parents up here on this podium, I struggle to make sense of the reckless gun violence that continues to take the lives of our young people throughout the city,” Brown said Monday morning at Chicago Police Headquarters.

In a frank assessment, Supt. Brown blamed the armed criminals recruiting the teens working the lucrative corners as the systemic root of a much larger problem.

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reported, the CBS 2 Investigators exposed the problem first hand – open-air drug markets operating in Chicago neighborhoods.

In November 2018, CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards witnessed open-air drug dealing in action on West Ferdinand Street near Garfield Park. The street is designated as a Safe Passage for Chicago school kids, but residents said the drug dealing was happening “all day, every day.”

And it is a root cause of the violence that plagues the city, Brown said Monday.

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“The street corner open air drug market is the pipeline to shootings and murders in Chicago,” Brown said.

Through 10 p.m. Sunday, 14 people were killed by gun violence. Going into the early morning hours Monday, that number rose to 17.

Sincere was shot and killed while in the car with his mother on Halsted Street near 60th Street. Lena was struck and killed by a stray bullet that entered her grandmother’s apartment on Dickens Avenue near Drake Avenue.

“It is an evil methodology because it protects the mastermind,” Brown said.

Supt. Brown said the so-called masterminds recruit teens with no criminal backgrounds because they are more likely to be treated lighter on a first time offense.

“They even gave them a nickname – they are called shorties,” Brown said. “They’re short in stature and short in criminal history.”

Brown said the current system relies too heavily on electronic monitoring, low bonds, and little jail time. But protesters demanding justice reforms support those issues.

Brown said the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

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“This is the complexity of Chicago violence,” Brown said. “I have been here eight weeks. This is the complexity of Chicago violence.”