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Grim milestone: Chicago records 500th homicide of 2012

A man gunned down Thursday on Chicago's West Side marked what police say is the city's 500th homicide of the year. It's a dubious distinction that hasn't occurred since 2008, when the city ended the year with 512 murders.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the total "an unfortunate and tragic milestone, which not only marks a needless loss of life but serves as a reminder of the damage that illegal guns and conflicts between gangs cause in our neighborhoods."

"The brave officers of the Chicago Police Department work tirelessly to continually reduce crime, but this is not just a law enforcement issue," Emanuel said in a statement.

Around noon Friday, News Affairs released a statement to clarify that Chicago's murder total remains at 499 because classification of one death investigation remains pending. They would not specify which death is pending.

Police released few details about the shooting in the 4900 block of West Augusta.

The man, identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office as 40-year-old Nathaniel T. Jackson, was shot around 9 p.m. and pronounced dead at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital at 12:18 a.m.

Tawfik Salman, owner of Noah Foods, said he heard four or five gunshots and dropped to the floor.

"It was pop pop pop pop," Salman said. "We seen a guy laying down in front of the store. I just went to the phone and called police."

According to police, homicides are up 17 percent from last year and shootings up 11 percent..

"It's sad you know. I guess this is part of the violence in Chicago," Salman said. "It's a sad thing that's going on."

At a peace dinner held Thursday, residents came together to talk about ways to end violence. Alderman Anthony Beale, who is running for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s old 2nd Congressional District seat, said Supt. Garry McCarthy needs to change strategies.

"His philosophy is not working," Beale said. "We need to put resources where the problems are, and then you will see crime drop across the city."

Chicago surpassed 2011's 435 murder total in October

Police said Chicago's 499th homicide victim was a man who died after he was shot at least four times – including in the face and chest – in a Gage Park neighborhood alley Wednesday night on the Southwest Side.

Frederico Martinez, of the 5400 block of South California Avenue, died from gunshot wounds he suffered near his home, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Police said the 32-year-old Martinez was standing with a female in an alleyway down the block from his home when a light-colored pick-up truck approached and somebody inside opened fire.

Martinez was shot in the face, chest and both arms and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he died at 10:41 p.m., authorities said.

Behind the troubling statistics, flashing lights and crime tape, communities throughout the city are searching for solutions.

"There's no magic spell that can end it. It's a matter of people and neighborhoods coming together and deciding that it's not going to happen," said neighbor Robert Grider.

Larry Pickens, who is running in the special election in the 2nd Congressional seat, offered a few suggestions Thursday: "Teaching our young people alternative dispute resolution, non-violent strategies for addressing conflict and getting guns off the street."