CHICAGO — Seven people, including four men killed in a gang-retaliation attack at a fast-food restaurant and a pregnant woman found with a gunshot wound to the head, were gunned down Thursday in three separate incidents within blocks of each other, police said.
The latest convulsion of violence, which occurred over a 12-hour period in the city’s South Shore neighborhood, comes as Chicago tallied nearly 900 murders in the past 15 months.
Two people — a 27-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman — were fatally shot as they drove near the South Shore Cultural Center, a popular recreational spot operated by the city’s park district, around 11 p.m. Thursday.
Police said a black Jeep drove alongside the victim’s van and opened fire, causing the van to strike a pole. The woman, who was sitting in the front passenger’s seat, suffered a gunshot wound to the head, and the man —who was a documented gang member — was shot in the side, according to police. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
In the quadruple homicide about seven hours earlier, four male victims were found in or around the Nadia Fish and Chicken restaurant, according to police.
Police said a male suspect approached the restaurant and fired shots. When officers arrived at the scene, they found two of the victims — 28-year-old Emmanuel Stokes and 32 year-old Edwin Davis — inside the restaurant. Dillon Jackson, 20, was found dead outside the restaurant. His brother, Raheem Jackson, 19, was found in a nearby yard. The Jackson brothers' mother worked in the restaurant where they were shot.
Shortly after noon, police responded to an incident at an apartment about a mile from the restaurant in which Patrice Calvin, 26, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head. She was four months pregnant, according to police.
"She was a beautiful person," said her mother, Patricia Pulliam, who spoke briefly to USA TODAY as she left Calvin's apartment on Friday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the killings "evil."
“There is a level of evil and depravity about an individual [who] would shoot a pregnant woman,” Emanuel told reporters. “There is a level of evil and depravity of an individual who would walk into a restaurant and, in front of a mother, shoot her sons.
The seven killings in South Shore followed another gang-related fatal shooting in the neighborhood late Wednesday, in which police said four men exited a vehicle and opened fire on a 37-year-old man as he was walking on a sidewalk. The man, who was wounded on the side of his body, transported himself to an area hospital, but later died from his injuries.
No suspects are in custody in any of the incidents. Police declined to comment on whether the shootings are connected.
Police Superintend Eddie Johnson said investigators believe the shooting at the restaurant as well as the double homicide near the cultural center were gang-related, but declined to provide more specific details because of the ongoing investigation.
"We know for certain that these incidents were targeted and are related to gang conflicts in the area," Johnson said. "While that doesn't lessen the weight of what happened, we know these aren't random acts of violence."
Mourners created memorial for victims of quadruple homicide at restaurant in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood
Detectives making good progress in investigation at 2700 BLK. E 75TH. Incident believed to be gang related retaliation from another incident
A team of detectives canvassed the area Thursday evening, looking for private security video from businesses that may have captured portions of the incident, Guglielmi said. The department also beefed up patrols in the neighborhood following the spate of shootings.
With more than 760 murders last year, Chicago tallied more killings than New York City and Los Angeles combined. It was the highest murder toll for the city in nearly two decades.
In the first three months of 2017, murders have slightly decreased with the city recording 123 murders through Sunday, compared to 136 at the same time last year, according to police department data.
The bulk of the murders have occurred in a few predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods on the city’s South and West sides. Police department brass say the vast majority of the killings are tied to the gang-fueled drug trade in those areas.
On the campaign trail and during his first two months in the White House, President Trump has repeatedly criticized Mayor Emanuel and the city leadership for not doing enough to stem the violence. Trump has also made vague threats to order federal intervention.
Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson have called on Trump to help fight the gun violence by sending the city more ATF agents and federal prosecutors. They've also asked Trump to boost funding for job and mentorship programs.
In recent months, the police department has built a series of data-driven support centers in some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods that use hyper-local video and data to help officers more quickly respond to shootings and help police predict where the next incident may occur.
While the data suggests a modest reduction in violence compared to last year, some residents in the city's hardest hit neighborhoods say it's hard to feel the progress that police and politicians are touting.
"The politicians, or the police, they're not doing their job," said Natasha Dunn, a South Shore resident. "The police, most of them mean well, but for the most part there is this lax way of dealing with crime in our community because there is this perception that we are all criminals. We are being ignored."
Tio Hardiman, who heads Violence Interrupters, a Chicago organization that works to mediate gang conflicts before they turn violent, said federal, state and city leaders deserve criticism for the handling of the situation in Chicago.
"President Trump, Governor Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, if they cannot find a bonafide solution that actually stops violence in Chicago, then they should start providing the young men on the South and West sides of Chicago with bulletproof vests and helmets," Hardiman said.
Follow USA TODAY Chicago correspondent Aamer Madhani on Twitter: @AamerISmad