CHICAGO — It's just eight days into February and the city has already seen nearly as many homicides as it had for all of February 2015.
Seventeen people have been killed so far this month, just three less than were killed throughout the entire month last year. Shootings are spiking, with 41 shootings leaving nine people dead over this February's first eight days, while just 17 shootings killed two people over the same period last year, according to a DNAinfo Chicago analysis.
The most recent victim is a 21-year-old man who was shot and killed while walking in Humboldt Park on Sunday afternoon.
Also among those killed is a Gage Park family who was found dead in their home in the city's most violent incident since 2003. Six people — including boys aged 13 and 10 — were found stabbed, shot and beaten in the home Thursday.
"... The overwhelming majority of these incidents are confined to gang-on-gang violence, often stemming from petty disagreements in-person or on social media," said Frank Giancamilli, a Chicago Police spokesman, in a statement. "These are not random acts of violence or criminals targeting the innocent; these are rivalries that are unfortunately settled with a gun."
Homicides in February
2016 so far: 17
This month's violence follows a bloody January that saw murders and shootings double from last year.
In response to the uptick, interim Supt. John Escalante moved 380 officers and 70 supervisors from foot beats to vehicles "to increase visibility and augment patrols in neighborhoods," Giancamilli said. Police have also increased patrols in the areas hit hard by gang violence and deployed 100 newly trained sergeants.
Even as violence has risen, police are stopping fewer people and confiscating fewer guns, an analysis by DNAinfo Chicago found in January. Officers are suffering from morale problems, sources said.
"I've been out to roll calls, and so have our board of directors ... and what we're hearing is that officers think that the FOP is the only group of people who have their back," police sources told DNAinfo. "... I've never seen things like this in my 35 years. ... I've never seen morale this bad in my career."
Interim Supt. John Escalante said social media has played a significant role in this year's rise in shootings. Gang members use social media to taunt each other and arrange meetups, potentially leading to conflict.
Here's what shootings look like so far:
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