USA TODAY - More than 100 people were shot in Chicago over the long Independence Day weekend as a deadly wave of violence once again rocked the massive city besieged by unrelenting gun crime.
At least 14 of the gunshot victims died, police said Wednesday.
Officer Jose Estrada, spokesman for the police department, said he could not verify but would not dispute reports by The Chicago Tribune and other local media that at least 101 people were shot between 3 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Estrada said it was hard to describe the weekend as a particularly difficult one for police.
"Any time you have people shot and killed, it's difficult," he said. "I can't say this weekend was more difficult than any other. And it's a little unfair — does five days count as a weekend?"
Estrada told USA TODAY the department logged 71 shooting incidents between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Wednesday. He said an official count of wounded wouldn't be available for several days.
Most of violence took place in a 6-hour period Monday night and early Tuesday, predominantly on the South and West sides of the city, Estrada said. Detectives investigating the shootings "suspect several incidents were retaliatory in nature and alcohol was a factor in others," he said.
The vast majority of the 762 murders and more than 4,000 shooting incidents in Chicago last year occurred in a few predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods on the city’s West and South Sides, and were driven by gang-related feuds and drug wars.
The Trump administration announced Friday it was dispatching an additional 20 ATF agents to the city to stem gun violence that has left more than 1,000 dead over the past 18 months. The Justice Department and the city also announced the formation of a joint strike force of federal and local law enforcement officials to ramp up prosecution of gun-related crimes.
"The Trump Administration will not let the bloodshed go on; we cannot accept these levels of violence," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
This past weekend's grim tally comes weeks after Memorial Day weekend, historically one of the most violent times of the year in the city, experienced a relatively low number of shootings. Five people were killed and 44 wounded in shootings over that holiday weekend, an improvement over last year's total of 7 killed and 61 injured.
The Tribune said the last time the Independence Day holiday weekend spanned four days was in 2013, when July 4 fell on a Thursday and many people took Friday off work. At least 74 people were shot between Wednesday evening and early Monday that year, and 12 of them died, according to Tribune data.
Contributing: Aamer Madhani
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