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Chicago Murders Drop to Lowest Monthly Total Since 1957, Police Say

By DNAinfo Staff on March 1, 2013 7:18am

 Fourteen people were murdered in Chicago in February, down from 28 in February 2012, police said.
Fourteen people were murdered in Chicago in February, down from 28 in February 2012, police said.
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CHICAGO — Fourteen people were murdered within city limits in February, half the number killed during the same month a year ago, police said.

February's homicide total was the lowest for any month since January 1957, when 14 people also were murdered in Chicago, police said.

Crime experts are encouraged by the lower number, which they say was helped by dreary weather and the recent attention on Chicago's murder rate, but say it's too soon to call it a trend.

"The numbers go up and down," said Harold Pollack, co-director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. "I'm always reluctant to put too much stock in any one month."

"Weather matters and lots of things matter," Pollack added. "We hope that all of the attention to this issue might lead to positive change."

February's drop in homicides followed a particularly bloody January when 43 people were killed. That was the highest total in January in more than a decade.

The last person to be killed in January was 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was fatally shot in broad daylight. Her death garnered national attention and led first lady Michelle Obama to attend her funeral.

Eleven of Chicago's homicides in February were shooting deaths, according to Cook County Medical Examiner's Office data. Three were stabbings.

"We are encouraged by the February numbers, but we're not taking our eye off the ball and will not rest until everyone in this city can feel the same measure of safety," Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said in a statement

In recent weeks McCarthy has called for "common sense" gun laws including universal background checks on prospective gun owners and mandatory minimum prison sentences for illegal gun possession.

The month kicked off with the death of Michelle Smith, 32, whose minivan came to a halt on a Lake Shore Drive off-ramp after she was shot to death early on Feb. 1.

The city had 506 homicides in 2012, a 16 percent jump over the previous year, according to police data.