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Shootings Near Puerto Rican Festival Nearly Double From Last Year

 New officers will come to the 26th Ward this summer, Ald. Roberto Maldonado said in a statement.
New officers will come to the 26th Ward this summer, Ald. Roberto Maldonado said in a statement.
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CHICAGO — Thousands of revelers descended on Humboldt Park for this weekend's Puerto Rican Festival and Parade — but the weekend also saw an uptick in shootings, including one that left a 33-year-old man dead. 

Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) did not respond to requests for comment on the violence, but said in a statement that he'd spoken to Kevin Navarro, the first deputy superintendent for Chicago Police, "to express my deep concern about the recent increase" in crime in the area.

Maldonado said he told Navarro police staffing had dropped in the area, and that there was a "clear need" for more police.

New officers will come to the district this summer as a result, Maldonado said.

"Whether a resident of this ward is walking their dog, taking their kids to enjoy a hot, summer's day at Humboldt Park beach or experiencing the amazing music and food at one of our great festivals, they should not have to fear for their safety," Maldonado said.

There were nine shootings with 15 victims between Thursday evening, when the festival revelry typically begins, and Monday morning in the area around the festival. That means the weekend violence accounted for more than half of the shootings — and shooting victims — seen in Humboldt Park in June.

Last year, there were five area shootings with five victims during the festival weekend and most of those shootings happened in nearby West Town.

This weekend's violence:

The festival and parade, which are organized separately, celebrate Puerto Rico and people of Puerto Rican descent in Chicago. Festival organizers did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Resident Larry Ligas said there might have been an uptick in shootings, but he thinks violence has fallen from what the festival used to see years back. He once witnessed a teen beaten with a brick at Puerto Rican Festival, he said, and the festivities were accompanied by "serious, serious, serious violence."

Ligas went to the festival for two days this year and said he didn't see any violent or gang-like behavior, though "the weekend was bloody." He and his guests felt safe, he said, and there was a "strong police presence."

"I've seen bloodshed over the years during the event ...," said Ligas, a co-founder of Logan Square Concerned Citizens. He's gone to the Puerto Rican Parade and Festival for more than 20 years. "It is changing for the good."