The Chicago area has reached a morbid milestone, recording an all-time high in gun deaths in 2021.
In a year-end review, officials with the county medical examiner’s office stated in a news release that Cook County, which includes Chicago, recorded 1,002 shooting-related homicides last year, 121 more than the previous record in 2020, and nearly double the amount in 2019.
The announcement came just days after the city of Chicago announced its own bleak numbers, marking the deadliest year on record for the city since 1996. Chicago police recorded 797 homicides last year, along with 3,561 shootings, which is nearly double the amount in 2019.
“We all know this has been a challenging year here in the city of Chicago,” Police Superintendent David Brown said in a news conference. “Too many families are reeling from the loss of (loved) ones due to senseless gun violence.”
Minorities made up the majority of the homicide victims, with 80% being Black and 14% Hispanic, Cook County officials stated. Brown explained that most of the homicides were due to gang conflicts between rivals.
In addition to deaths from gun violence, COVID and opioid overdoses were other major causes of mortality for the city. The pandemic claimed around 4,500 deaths this year, while drugs were responsible for 1,488 deaths so far, although the medical examiner’s office stated that hundreds of cases are still pending confirmation.
On a positive note, Brown said that his department cleared 400 homicides this year – a significantly higher success rate than previous years. The superintendent also stated that Chicago police took a record-high 12,088 illegal guns off the streets in 2021, more than any other department in the U.S.