Ronald Holt, the commander of the Chicago police department’s special activities division, said that the city was witnessing “fratricide” among young men who had come to believe “that the only way to resolve a conflict is to get a gun and go shoot to kill”.
“To tackle gun violence where it is overwhelming communities with the extraordinary loss of lives at an alarming pace, we must deal with it as a social disease and health issue,” Holt, whose 17-year-old son Blair was shot dead on a bus in 2007, told the Guardian in an email.
His remarks came as Chicago suffered its bloodiest weekend of the year. Dozens of residents were shot in a series of separate incidents. On the city’s south side, five children aged between 11 and 15 were shot while walking home from a park on Sunday evening.
At least nine people were killed around the city over the Easter weekend.
The weekend’s death toll brought the total number of suspected homicides so far this year to 90, compared to 92 at this point in 2013, according to figures compiled by RedEye Chicago. Superintendent Garry McCarthy on Monday compared the task his department faces as it tries to tackle gun violence to “drinking from a firehose”.