PULLMAN — Despite a weekend that left nine people dead citywide, top brass from the Chicago Police Department insisted the violence "could have been a lot worse" if not for its gang-fighting strategy and crackdown on firearms.
Standing next to a table of confiscated guns at the Calumet District police station in Pullman, the officials reported that 574 guns had been recovered by police since Jan. 1, including 100 in the last week.
First Deputy Supt. Alfonza Wysinger said police were successfully fighting back by "starting to pinpoint not only where gangbangers are, but also where retaliation points will be."
He said the strategy is helping to fight the violence despite last weekend being the deadliest in Chicago in more than a year.
"Without the gang-reduction strategy, this weekend could have been a lot worse than it was," Wysinger said.
He admitted it was a gruesome weekend that was difficult for police.
"We did have a very rough weekend," Wysinger said. "Is it frustrating? You bet it is."
He and nearly a dozen others at the news conference, including Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) and members of the clergy, called for stricter gun penalties and restrictions as a way to boost safety on the city's streets.
With 69 guns recovered since the beginning of the year, the Calumet District recently became the gun recovery capital of Chicago, according to police, tying the Englewood District for the most guns recovered citywide.
According to police, more guns are recovered in Chicago than any other major city in the U.S.
"Gun violence remains one of our toughest problems, with the overwhelming majority of homicides tracking back to these deadly weapons," Wysinger said. "This is a time when we especially need effective gun laws to fully hold criminals accountable."
Wysinger also expressed "frustration" over a specific case that he said highlighted the "limitations of our gun laws." In the case, a gang member who recently was detained by police was only charged with a single felony for defacing a firearm while his other charges will all be counted as misdemeanors.
Police sources said last week that the Cook County state's attorney's "felony review" process has made it difficult to bring charges against shooters. According to DNAinfo.com Chicago's analysis, gunmen who shot and wounded someone got away without criminal charges 94 percent of the time.
Among the weapons on display Monday was an imitation AK-47 and an assault rifle police said was similar to one used in a weekend shooting where the fourth of one mother's four children was shot to death in the street.