CHICAGO — The bullets keep flying in Chicago, and the victims keep dropping.
After a year with more than 500 murders, Chicago has already seen more than 200. It's a reduction from the violent 2012 that grabbed headlines around the world, but still a grim reality in Chicago's neighborhoods.
Last year, DNAinfo Chicago's reporters knocked on the doors of the victims' families to get the stories and photos of the dead and share them. This year, our reporters continued to comb the neighborhoods, talking to the people who live in the line of fire every day.
As of July 10, there have been 204 homicides in Chicago, according to the Chicago Police Department — a 26 percent drop in murders compared to this time last year. Shootings are also down 24 percent. But the department acknowledges there is more work to be done.
“While to date we've had significantly fewer shootings and significantly fewer murders this year, there's more work to be done and we won't rest until everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety," Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said.
"No shooting or murder is acceptable and everyday Chicago Police work to combat crime and violence in close partnership with the communities we serve, members of the clergy, local organizations, principals, parents and residents because we all have a role to play in public safety."
Our team of reporters knocked on more than 200 doors so far this year. They met the sobbing wife of a decorated U.S. Navy veteran, who was gunned down while celebrating the July 4 holiday weekend with his family — hours before his baby girl took her first steps.
They met the parents of 18-year-old April McDaniel, an aspiring young singer fatally shot in the throat when gunmen opened fire into a group of her friends.
There was also 19-year-old Columbia College student Kevin Ambrose, who was walking to meet a friend at the "L" — and keep him safe — when he was shot dead.
Whether they were gang members killed in the ongoing beefs that tear apart city neighborhoods, or, like Ambrose and many others, innocent victims caught in the middle, their families want them to be remembered.
Take, for example, Akeem Manago, 19, who served more than a year in prison before moving out of his old neighborhood. His first time back, he ended up dead.
"Somebody was planning to kill him as soon as he came to the neighborhood," Manago's uncle said. "He was targeted in a blatant murder."
Residents of some Chicago neighborhoods have been forced indoors due to the seemingly constant gunfire. Just this week, 15-year-old Ed Cooper, who wanted to become a cop and clean up his West Side neighborhood, became another victim.
"He just said he [was] gonna make the community right, but the community killed him," Cooper's mother said.