The year 2017 got off to a bloody start in Chicago.
Three people were killed and 16 more were wounded in shootings on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in the Windy City, the Chicago Police Department reported.
The violence came on the heels of one of the deadliest years in the city’s history, with 812 homicides (725 by gunfire) and 3,550 total shootings on the books for 2016 — and despite the fact that the city had 1,000 extra cops on the street to keep the peace.
“At this rate, 2017 could be even worse,” a Chicago police officer who asked not to be identified warned.
The first fatal shooting was reported at 4:25 a.m. when two men were killed on the North Side in a neighborhood called Uptown. They died in the 4600 block of North Broadway and the circumstances of their demise were not immediately available.
The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified them as Maurice Delaney Sr., 38, and 31-year-old Ali Mohamed.
The third fatality of the new year was identified as 39-year-old John Warship, who was found shot at 5:55 a.m. Sunday on West Monroe St. on the West Side of the city, according to the medical examiner's office.
Chicago’s tragic tally of shooting deaths last year was more than New York City and Los Angeles combined.
New York City recorded 334 homicides in 2016, according to NYPD data obtained by the Associated Press. And there were 294 homicides in the city of Los Angeles last year.
While Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, the Chicago Police Department found that half the guns they seized found their way into the city from just across the border in Indiana and other states like Mississippi, where buying weapons is much easier.
The vast majority of the Chicago homicides happened in poor, gang-infiltrated neighborhoods like Austin on the West Side and Englewood on the South Side — far from the glittering towers of Michigan Avenue and the gentrified neighborhoods in and around The Loop.
Most of the victims, according to the medical examiner's office, were black men.
As a result, most Chicagoans aren't touched by the tragedy. So on Saturday, hundreds of people marched through the city's downtown carrying three-foot crosses engraved with the names of homicide victims.
"This is a Chicago problem," said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, an activist priest who has been demanding that city hall take steps to stop the scourge of violence. "The reason we're on Michigan Avenue is because this is a Chicago problem. And until everybody in Chicago decides it's their problem, we're not going to end it."
As deadly as 2016 was, it’s been worse in Chicago. There were 928 homicides in 1991, 943 in 1992, 855 in 1993, and 941 in 1994, according to statistics compiled by police.