A shooting outside a funeral home in Chicago’s South Side that left 15 people injured was part of an ongoing conflict involving the gang of a young man being mourned and a rival gang, police said Wednesday as the federal government said it planned to send more agents to the city to combat a spike in gun violence.
Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said the man whose funeral people were attending had been killed in a drive-by shooting last week and that he was killed in retaliation for a previous shooting.
Mourners were outside a funeral home in the Englewood neighbourhood Tuesday when three people pulled up in a stolen car and two of them opened fire. People at the funeral returned fire, the car crashed a short time later and the three occupants fled on foot, police said.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said at least 60 shell casings were recovered following the shooting, which happened despite police having two squad cars outside the funeral home — a precaution the department regularly takes at funerals involving those linked to gangs — as well as a tactical team deployed to the neighborhood.
“We had intelligence that the deceased was killed in a drive-by shooting … and there was a gang connection and we deployed our resources accordingly,” he told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.
Police said the 15 people who were injured were all adults, two were in critical condition and the other 13 are expected to recover.
Police have said one person of interest was taken in for questioning Tuesday night, but declined to provide further details on Wednesday.
Federal agents being deployed
The shooting comes as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is planning to deploy dozens of federal agents to Chicago to deal with an uptick in violent crime in the city.
Neither Brown nor Mayor Lori Lightfoot commented at the news conference on the planned increased federal presence in the city.
After threatening to sue if U.S. President Donald Trump acted without her permission, Lightfoot noted on Tuesday that the city would be working with federal agents to fight crime.
She said Chicago will receive resources that will plug into existing federal agencies already working with the city, including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Lightfoot has been skeptical of federal agents being sent to Chicago due to the controversy in Portland, Ore., where the Trump administration sent federal officers after weeks of protests there over police brutality and racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Oregon’s governor and Portland’s mayor have expressed anger with the presence of the federal agents, saying that the city’s protests had started to ease just as the federal agents started taking action.
Trump has framed such protests in the nation’s large cities as a failure by “liberal Democrats” who run them.
He also praised the officers’ actions and said he was looking to send agents to other cities, pointing to rising gun violence in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, where more than 63 people were shot, 12 fatally, over the weekend.
‘We thought it was a war’
On Tuesday, those injured outside the funeral home included 10 women between the ages of 21 and 65, including one woman who was shot in the chest.
Police said a man also suffered gunshot wounds in the chest, arm and forearm, and two other men, 32 and 22, were shot in the hand.
Arnita Geder and Kenneth Hughes said they heard gunshots while in their home watching television, adding that they came outside to find bodies that were shot up and “laying everywhere.”
“We thought it was a war out here,” Geder told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s ridiculous all the shooting that’s going on out here, it really has to stop.”
Tuesday’s shooting highlighted what Brown said are hundreds of gang conflicts that occur everywhere in the city involving 117,000 gang members, dozens of gangs and hundreds of gang factions.
Watch | Mayor of Chicago pleads for justice after funeral shooting injures 15
As police and city officials in the past have done repeatedly, Brown and Lightfoot implored people with information about the shooting to report what they know to police before there is another attack in retaliation for Tuesday’s shooting.
“Someone listening has information that will help prevent the retaliation that unfortunately is probably being planned at this very moment,” Lightfoot said.
“This same cycle repeats itself over and over and over again,” Brown added.