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Chicago man charged in shooting of 2 federal agents, police officer

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/8/2021 Grace Hauck, USA TODAY
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CHICAGO — A man has been charged in the shooting of two undercover federal agents and a Chicago police officer in an unmarked vehicle early Wednesday.

The 28-year-old Chicago man faces one count of using a dangerous and deadly weapon to assault a special agent from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.

The charge is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, the office said. The man was taken into custody Wednesday evening and scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court Thursday afternoon.

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The three officers were driving onto the I-57 freeway just before 6 a.m. Wednesday when they were fired upon from the street, police said. The driver of a white Chevrolet Malibu, later identified as the suspect, pulled alongside the officers’ vehicle, rolled down his window and began shooting, according to the federal indictment.

a group of people walking down the street: Chicago police and ATF agents work the scene of a shooting on South Ashland Avenue near West 118th Street next to Interstate 57, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. © Vashon Jordan Jr., AP Chicago police and ATF agents work the scene of a shooting on South Ashland Avenue near West 118th Street next to Interstate 57, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

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One of the agents was hit in the hand and one in the torso, and the Chicago cop was grazed in the back of the head, police said. They were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition and released Wednesday evening.

According to the federal indictment, the man told officers following his arrest that he fired on their vehicle because he thought rival gang members were inside. The man told officers a friend had informed him a similar car had been surveilling the area.

The man told officers he purchased the Glock 9 millimeter pistol "a few" months ago, according to the indictment.

At least 36 Chicago officers have been shot at or shot so far in 2021, Police Superintendent David Brown said Wednesday.

"They're risking everything to protect the people of Chicago," Brown said. He added: "This is a very challenging time to be in law enforcement."


Video: Chicago police officer, 2 federal agents shot by suspect (WGN-TV Chicago)

Chicago police officer, 2 federal agents shot by suspect
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The shooting in Chicago happened the same day an FBI Task Force officer and longtime detective was fatally shot in what officials called an "ambush" outside of a federal building in Indiana.

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a man wearing a hat: Chicago police Superintendent David Brown speaks to media during a news conference at police headquarters, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, on the police department's new draft of a foot pursuit policy. © Antonio Perez, AP Chicago police Superintendent David Brown speaks to media during a news conference at police headquarters, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, on the police department's new draft of a foot pursuit policy.

There have been nearly 23,000 gun violence deaths in the U.S. this year, including more than 12,000 by suicide, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, which tracks gun incident trends.

In Chicago, there have been more than 2,067 shooting victimizations – an event when an individual becomes the victim of a shooting – so far this year, up 12% from the same period last year, according to city data. Of those, 336 have been fatal, a 1% increase from last year.

Gun violence in the city disproportionately affects a handful of largely Black and Latino neighborhoods on the city’s South and West sides – often the same neighborhoods that have faced historical disinvestment and lack access to quality fresh food and pharmacies.

One neighborhood on the West Side, for example, experiences nearly 20 times more shooting victimizations per resident than a neighborhood about four miles further north, according to city data.

About 83% of fatal shooting victims so far this year are Black, and about 14% are White-Hispanic, according to city data. More than 42% of shooting victims are in their 20s.

"Too long we’ve been in a tale of two cities," activist Ja'Mal Green said in a video statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday, adding, "We have to invest in the root causes of gun violence or we will have thousands more shot, many more dead for years to come. Our city is out of control."

Green and several other activists gathered outside the Chicago Police Department headquarters Wednesday to call on Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker to declare a state of emergency for gun violence and invest $1 billion in housing, mental health resources, youth centers and jobs programs. The speakers referenced Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to declare a state of emergency for New York on Tuesday.

"Treat gun violence as a public health crisis," Green said. "We have to invest back into these neighborhoods so that we can improve the quality of life for all Chicago."

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Several Chicago aldermen issued a similar call outside City Hall on Thursday, asking Mayor Lori Lightfoot to spend $1.8 billion in federal relief money on social services. Hours later, Cook County announced an unrelated $1.5 million investment in community-based organizations aimed at addressing the root causes of crime and violence.

Last month, President Joe Biden launched a new crime prevention strategy with a "zero-tolerance policy" for rogue gun dealers and a new focus by the Justice Department to try to stop the illegal sale of firearms. He said cities and states can use their portions of $350 billion in direct aid from Biden's COVID-19 rescue plan on public safety efforts, including hiring more police officers.

Many in Chicago, however, have called for police department funding to be diverted to social services instead. A Justice Department investigation released in 2017 found that the Chicago Police Department is beset by widespread racial bias, along with excessive use of force, poor training and feckless oversight of officers accused of misconduct, and mistrust between police and the communities they serve remains high.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chicago man charged in shooting of 2 federal agents, police officer

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