CHICAGO: A weekend of bloodshed in Chicago left 11 people dead, including a nine-year-old boy, as police struggled to contain the gun violence plaguing the city in the US heartland.
The boy was killed while riding in an SUV with a 31-year-old man. A grey sedan pulled alongside and someone inside began shooting, according to police who did not identify either victim.
The older man was struck in the back, face and chest, and was in critical condition at a hospital, police said. The young boy died of a gunshot wound to the back.
The two were among 56 shot in the period between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, according to the Chicago Tribune newspaper, which keeps a running tally of the runaway shootings, which have been mostly gang-related and concentrated in a few economically struggling neighbourhoods.
Eleven people in total were killed, the Tribune reported.
Warm summer months often bring higher levels of violence to Chicago streets. Over the July 4 holiday, 101 were hit by gunfire and 14 killed, according to the Tribune. The youngest of the victims during that four-day period was just 13 years old, the newspaper said.
The violence has drawn a great deal of media attention because it is where former president Barack Obama worked as a civil rights attorney and law professor. Obama still maintains a high profile in the city, where his presidential library is to be built.
Other US cities such as St Louis or Baltimore have even higher murder rates relative to the size of their populations, but the sheer number of shootings in Chicago gets it noticed more.
The Drug Enforcement Agency recently announced that more agents would be sent to aid Chicago law enforcement, by forming a task force to battle the illicit drug trade, which fuels gun violence.