ALERT: Police ID driver killed; search for hit-and-run suspect

Chicago tops 700 homicides for the year

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Chicago has reached another bloody milestone.

There have been 701 homicides recorded so far this year in the city, the Chicago Police Department told CNN on Thursday.

There were 480 homicides in 2015.

It’s the first time the city has recorded more than 700 homicides in nearly two decades, according to the Chicago Tribune. Chicago had 704 homicides in 1998, the Tribune reported, and is on a pace to easily break that mark.

Guns are driving the violence, with more than 90% of the 2016 homicides gun-related, said Anthony Guglielmi, head of communications for the Chicago Police Department.

There have been 3,315 shooting incidents this year, police said. Officers have recovered 8,000 guns, a 20% jump over last year, and gun arrests are up 8% over last year.

Harder to quantify is the human suffering. Many of the victims were not engaged in crimes, such as the cousin of Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade. She was shot in August while pushing a baby stroller near a school.

“The levels of violence we have seen this year in some of our communities is absolutely unacceptable,” said Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. “CPD will use every tool available to hold violent offenders accountable and will continue to work strategically to address crime and uphold its commitment to rebuild public trust.”

He said most of the killings occur in five police districts on the south and west sides of the city, He listed several measures police have taken to combat the violence and improve public trust, including police recruitment campaigns, an expanded “anti-violence campaign” and extending the public comment period for the department’s use-of-force policy.

In the early 2000s, the homicide rate in Chicago held steady, but it began an upward tick in 2014 and has been increasing since. The numbers just for November were: 77 killings, 316 shootings and 389 shooting victims, the department said.

What’s causing the increase in violence? Possible causes are distrust of the police department, rising street crime and economic struggles of poor people.