Two men were charged in connection with a shooting in Chicago last week that injured 13 people, including a 3-year-old boy, but neither are believed to have been the gunman, Chicago police said on Monday.
The gunman fired into a crowd gathered to watch a basketball game using an military-grade weapon last Thursday.
Byron Champ, 21, and Kewane Gatewood, 20, were each charged with three counts of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, police said in a written statement.
The relationship between the two men who were charged and the shooter is unclear.
“These charges are just the beginning, and this investigation remains ongoing at this time,” Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in the statement.
Champ, a documented gang member, was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in July 2012 and sentenced to boot camp at a Cook County facility, police said.
McCarthy said Champ being “back on the streets to be part of this senseless shooting” was “unacceptable.”
The shooting took place in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in a park where residents were enjoying a basketball game on a warm evening.
Three-year-old Deonta Howard underwent surgery after he was shot in the head. The Chicago Tribune reported on Monday that Deonta was “making a quick recovery” and is expected to be released from the hospital within a few days.
The shooting came 10 days after Mayor Rahm Emanuel and McCarthy held a news conference to claim success in a strategy of flooding 20 high-crime neighborhoods with police. Back of the Yards was not one of the neighborhoods that received reinforcements, McCarthy said last week.
On Saturday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said he would be open to sending the National Guard into the city to help police, but only if local officials supported the idea, according to the local CBS news station.
However, McCarthy is against the proposal.
“The National Guard is not a policing force, they are a military force,” he said on Monday at a graduation ceremony for new police officers.
Gun violence in Chicago led to more than 500 murders in 2012, according to a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. New York City, with three times Chicago’s population, had 419 murders in 2012, the FBI said.
Homicides in the city this year are down 21 percent compared to last year – at 305 compared to 389, according to the Chicago Police Department.
President Barack Obama, who considers Chicago his hometown, tried to tighten the nation’s gun control laws after 26 people, among them 20 children, died in a shooting rampage last December in Newtown, Connecticut.
The effort failed in Congress after the powerful gun rights lobby, the National Rifle Association, opposed tougher laws.
Meanwhile Chicago and the state of Illinois have loosened some gun laws this year despite the Emanuel’s opposition. The city council abolished its registry of gun owners after its gun control law was ruled unconstitutional by the courts. Illinois approved the concealed carrying of guns and is the last state in the nation to authorize some sort of carrying guns in public.
Source : Reuters