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40 Of Weekend's Shooting Victims Had Been Arrested 672 Times, Top Cop Says

By Alex Nitkin | August 15, 2016 1:26pm | Updated on August 16, 2016 11:40am
"It's ridiculous that people who get pretrial [jail] time for retail theft spend more time in jail than gun offenders," Johnson said. "Don't you think that's backwards? It's just mind-boggling to me."
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

BRONZEVILLE — After another brutally violent weekend in Chicago, Police Supt. Eddie Johnson appeared impatient and exasperated Monday as he renewed his plea for judges and legislators to help keep repeat gun offenders off the streets.

"Any leader in the city of Chicago that thinks what we're seeing out on the streets is OK, shouldn't be a leader," Johnson said, his voice swelling. "Go to those neighborhoods and live there, and tell me how you feel then."

Those killed over the weekend included 23-year-old Abner Garcia, an Army veteran with no criminal history, and 19-year-old Arshell Dennis, a college student whose father was a police officer. On Sunday, a 6-year-old girl became the third child under 10 to be shot in the past week, and a pregnant woman was shot in her chest.

"Too many Monday mornings we come together as a city and shake our heads in despair and disbelief," Johnson said. "The truth is that as long as we fail to hold violent repeat offenders responsible for their actions, we're going to hear the same stories of murders and shootings in certain parts of our city.

"I, for one, am just tired of it, and I'm sick of seeing our African-American men robbed of an opportunity for a prosperous future," he added.

Of the 52 people shot between Friday morning and Sunday night, police said, 40 had prior contact with police. Together, they had 672 arrests on their records.

Johnson singled out Anthony Nelson, who was shot to death in Park Manor Sunday morning, saying he had been arrested 13 times. In March 2015, Nelson was sentenced to six months of probation after being charged with unlawful use of a weapon, police said.

"These gun offenders don't care. They could care less if it's an 80-year-old grandmother or a 5-year-old child out there," Johnson said. And that's our fault. Because we have constantly shown that we are not going to hold them accountable.

"CPD is arresting them. We need our legislative and judicial partners to help hold these individuals accountable," he added. "Kids getting shot out there is just stupid."

Last month, Johnson joined State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) to announce legislation they said would encourage local judges to set longer sentences for people charged with gun crimes.

Johnson said he hopes the law, whose "language is still being finalized," passes by the end of the year.

The effort has met resistance because people "are afraid of casting a large net over minority communities," Johnson said. "But that's not what we're doing. We're using a spear to target repeat gun offenders."

The superintendent also said he'd had an "encouraging" conversation with Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans.

"It's ridiculous that people that get pretrial [jail] time for retail theft spend more time in jail than gun offenders," Johnson said. "Don't you think that's backwards? It's just mind-boggling to me."

Neither Evans nor the Cook County State's Attorney's Office responded to requests for comment.

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