BY MICHAEL LANSU
Homicide Watch Chicago Editor
Chicago finished February with 20 murders — tied for the fourth lowest total for the month since 1957, police said.
The month had two five-day stretches without a killing, the longest murder-free periods of 2014.
The Austin and West Garfield Park communities each tallied two murder in the month, the most for any community.
Overall, murders were up from February 2013, when the city recorded only 13 killings — the fewest of any month on record, police said.
However, shootings and shooting victims were down in February 2014, police said. Chicago had 70 shooting victims in February 2014, compared to 95 during the month in 2013, 137 in 2012 and 98 in 2011.
The decrease in shootings was due in part to the weekend of Feb. 15 and 16, when not a single person was shot.
In the first two months of 2014, Chicago Police have recorded 40 murders. The Cook County medical examiner’s office, which classifies killings different, have recorded 45 homicides in the city in 2014, including two people fatally shot by police. Chicago Police determined the other three killings were involuntary manslaughter or self defense.
“While Chicago has seen fewer murders, fewer shootings and less crime this year, there is much more work to be done,” Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said in a statement. “We will continue to implement a comprehensive strategy, putting additional officers in high-crime areas, using intelligence to prevent retaliatory gang shootings, moving officers from administrative positions back to the streets, and partnering with the community. Yet continuing to build on the progress we’ve made will become more challenging without better state and federal laws to keep illegal guns out of our communities and punish the criminals who carry them.”
Through the first two months of 2014, murders are down 25 percent and shootings are down 38 percent compared to the same time last year.