CPD Claims, Chicago Gangs using more High Powered Weapons in Shootings

The first time 14-year-old Brisa Ramirez remembers hearing rifle fire was when a man was shot dead on a Sunday afternoon outside a Catholic church around the corner from her home in Back of the Yards.

She raises her voice to imitate the sharp, metallic bursts. Ta. Ta. Ta. Ta. Ta. It was a foreign sound even in this neighborhood accustomed to gunfire.

“It wasn’t like a normal (shooting). … It was like something more terrible,” Brisa says. “A noise that you can’t really explain.”

She and others in Davis Square Park took cover against concrete steps across the street from Seward Elementary School, where Brisa had just graduated from eighth grade.

The shooting was one of at least 33 in Back of the Yards and Brighton Park over the past nine months that police believe are tied to semi-automatic rifles as several gangs boost their firepower. At least 46 people have been shot in the attacks, 13 fatally.

Police say this is the only area of the city where rifles styled after AR-15s and AK-47s are regularly used, a menacing new development in the gang fights.

It’s unclear how many of the high-powered rifles are on the street, but police suspect they are being passed around by members of four Hispanic gangs in the Deering police district, which covers parts of the South and Southwest sides.

Two of the gangs — La Raza near 47th and Loomis streets and the Almighty Saints near 45th and Wood streets — have been fighting for decades. But the conflict has expanded to the Satan Disciples and Two-Sixers in neighboring Brighton Park, where violence is less frequent.

e first time 14-year-old Brisa Ramirez remembers hearing rifle fire was when a man was shot dead on a Sunday afternoon outside a Catholic church around the corner from her home in Back of the Yards.

She raises her voice to imitate the sharp, metallic bursts. Ta. Ta. Ta. Ta. Ta. It was a foreign sound even in this neighborhood accustomed to gunfire.

Police have seized at least three rifles and have recovered rifle casings at dozens of crime scenes. There is also surveillance video showing rifles being used, according to investigators.

Police aren’t sure why the gangs have suddenly added rifles to their arsenal, except for the obvious speculation that they are deadlier.

A bullet from a semi-automatic rifle can travel as fast as 3,200 feet per second, twice the speed from a handgun. That means wounds are more disabling, experts say.

Rifle bullets can tear through cars and other obstacles, including standard-issue bulletproof vests worn by Chicago police. Special “rifle plates” that can stop those rounds are issued to SWAT teams, and some officers on regular duty also buy them.

Gangs have fired rifles outside elementary schools and churches, a day care center, in alleys and on residential streets, mostly during the afternoon and evening hours when streets are often crowded.

The conflict has grown so intense that officers were called to Seward and Lara elementary schools in Saints territory in December after a Raza gang member threatened to shoot school-age kids with a rifle, according to police sources.

“I get worried,” said Brisa’s mother, Silvia Ramirez. Her family lives in “Halo City,” Almighty Saints territory bounded by 43rd and 47th streets and Damen and Ashland avenues. “I’ve seen how all these young people are dying.” Continue Reading
Article Org: Chicagotribune.com

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