Nightly News | June 30, 2012
>>> last night's death toll , two people killed, seven wounded. we're not talking about a war overseas. we're talking about shootings overnight in chicago . chicago 's homicide rate is soaring, even as rates are dropping across the country. chicagoans are understandably outraged, and now police there are changing tactics in an effort to stop the killings. ron mott has our report.
>> reporter: another shooting, another vigil in chicago . protesting the death of a 7-year-old girl named heaven struck in the back wednesday night by a stray bullet while selling candy, prompting outrage from the city's mayor.
>> take your gang conflict away from a 7-year-old. who raised you?
>> reporter: the murder count this year? 254, a 37% increase over last year, leaving a steady stream of crime scene tape and familying in mourning.
>> we have a method to reduce crime that's not going to happen overnight.
>> reporter: the surge in homicides here is all the more alarming because in the nation's biggest or notoriously violent cities, murders are down. chicago and philadelphia notable exceptions. this funeral director who once ran chicago 's jails says many young people don't expect a full life.
>> in their minds they're planning their funerals. planning to see how many will come, what type of eulogy will it be? who will speak on their behalf? that's in their mindset now rather than their future.
>> reporter: chicago police have called in backup. the city just received a $3 million federal grant to hire veterans as officers and next month will launch a partnership with an organization that mediates conflicts on the streets in hopes of winning back some of the peace.
>> spread the message to save a life.
>> reporter: cease-fire illinois literally gets in the middle of the disputes.
>> come on, and walk with me, man.
>> reporter: like the one that erupted while we called so-called violence interrupters.
>> we have 130 staff on the streets right now in chicago . the cease-fire's role is to stop a guy from drosing the line so nobody goes to the pent stli or cemetery. when a guy crosses the line, the police get involved.
>> reporter: going beyond the badge to end the deadly onslaught. ron mott, nbc news, chicago .