(NORTH CHICAGO) Charges are expected to be brought against two men, perhaps as early as Tuesday, in the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old woman in North Chicago on Friday.
At the beginning of the North Chicago City Council meeting on Monday, Mayor Leon Rockingham offered a public assurance to the family of Janay McFarland, 18, who was gunned down in an alley off Jackson Street.
“We’re doing everything we can to bring these people to justice,” said Rockingham, who then urged tougher federal gun laws. “This was a senseless, brutal murder and one more proof that legislation has to be passed to get guns off the street.”
McFarland’s death is the first North Chicago homicide of 2013. Last year, Kenny Hodge Jr., who was discovered Oct. 24 with multiple gunshot wounds after his car rolled onto a parkway on Wright Avenue, was the only gun murder. In 2011, the city saw four gun deaths.
But many other people are shot and survive. The Lake County News-Sun has reported on nine shootings in the city since 2012. In the first, a police officer was grazed in the shoulder by a bullet in May after responding to a large street party. In the latest, earlier this month, a man was shot at Flanagan’s sports bar at Buckley Road and Route 41.
North Chicago Police Chief James Jackson blames rivalry between gang members for many of the shootings.
“Some of our residents formerly lived in Chicago with some of the gangs who are moving in,” Jackson said in an interview before the start of the council meeting. “We’re dealing with some young folks who have no moral compass and with the availability of illegal guns, it makes it even worse. In the past, if there was an issue, there would be a fistfight. Now you have a weapon with a magazine that can fire 15 rounds. Guns are everywhere.”
Jackson, who retired as second-in-command for the Chicago Police Department, said his department is working with the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group, or MEG, and other law enforcement units to combat gangs.
“We’ve targeted one of the main gangs behind the shootings in the city, but the investigation has to run its course,” said Jackson, who added his department is trying to educate North Chicago residents to report gang activity and what “mannerisms” to look for. “We’re pushing the notion of phone trees,” he said. “We want everybody calling to give a description. It doesn’t help us when we roll into a situation where there’s shots being fired or that kind of violence and we don’t get the description ’til after we get there; we pass the person coming in on the call.”
Gang members involved in shootings are often “habitual” offenders, said Jackson. “That’s why we’re working with our federal partners, because they have enhanced penalties for some of the violations.”
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