Hundreds of people swept through streets of Chicago overnight, injuring police officers, smashing store windows, and looting and damaging property after police officers shot a man they say was armed, officials said.
More than 100 people were arrested and 13 officers were injured, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said Monday morning at a news conference.
“This wasn’t an organized protest. It was an incident of pure criminality,” Brown said. “Criminals took to streets with confidence that there would be no consequences for their actions. I refuse to let these cowardly acts hold our city hostage.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot also called the actions criminal.
“We are waking up in shock this morning,” Lightfoot said Monday. “This had nothing to do with protected First Amendment expression. … This was abject criminal behavior. …This is straight up felony criminal conduct.”
The shooting happened Sunday afternoon when police responded to a call of a person with a gun, according to the city’s police department. Officers said they tried to confront a man who matched the description of the suspect when he fled on foot, firing toward officers as he did.
Two officers fired back, striking the man, identified as a 20-year-old with four arrests for burglary, child endangerment and domestic battery. He was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition, according to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is investigating the shooting.
Police said a firearm was recovered at the scene and three officers involved were hospitalized for observation.
The officers involved will be placed on administrative duties, which is department protocol.
Brown said “tempers flared, fueled by misinformation” about the shooting. Police started noticing social media posts encouraging looting and were then called to reports of a mob scene at about 12:20 a.m., he said.
The injured officers included a sergeant who was struck with a bottle and another whose nose was broken, Brown said. Details about specific injuries to other officers were still being gathered, said Thomas Ahern, the Deputy Director News Affairs and Communications for the Chicago Police Department.
Officers who were arresting a man with a cash register were shot at by people passing by in a vehicle, Brown said. A security guard and a civilian were struck by gunfire during the early morning hours and taken to hospitals.
Five guns were recovered during the unrest, Brown said, bringing the total of weekend guns recovered by police to 149.
The turmoil led to street closures, notably in Chicago’s Loop, the center of the city’s downtown, according to Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management & Communications.
Downtown train and bus services were shut down, according to the Chicago Transit Authority, and the bridges over the Chicago River were lifted, further limiting entry and exit to downtown. The Illinois State Police said the Chicago police had asked for help blocking expressway ramps going in and out of the city’s Loop.
At least two Chicago colleges closed campuses Monday in response to the unrest, and City Hall employees were told to work from home “due to restricted access to downtown.”
The looting spread from stores and other businesses in the Loop to several other neighborhoods, including River North, Streeterville, Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast and the South Loop.
Brown said access to downtown would be “restricted” with a heavy police presence starting at 8 p.m. Monday and lasting until 6 a.m. Tuesday. The department would also monitor outside neighborhoods.
“This is a beautiful city, and CPD will not let criminal acts destroy generations of hard work,” Brown said.
CPD Deputy Chief Yolanda Talley had said earlier that misinformation about the age of the man who was shot caused an emotional response from residents.
Talley said the disruptions were “a direct response to one agitator being on the scene, getting people all worked up without having the full story. During a news conference, she asked people to “take a step back” to allow a dialogue.
“We want to hear what they have to say” Talley said. “Right now, in this climate, everyone is feeling a certain way about the police, and it’s really unfair to us. It really is.”
Lightfoot was more stern. “To those engaged in criminal behavior — let’s be clear — we are coming for you,” she said Monday morning. “I don’t care what justification is given, there is no justification for criminal behavior.”
“Our citizens deserve to be safe,” she added. “Our officers deserve to be able to do their job without having to worry about shots fired.”
The clashes occurred amid a spike in gun violence in Chicago this year that has hit communities of color particularly hard.
Brown said there were 31 shootings over the weekend, including three murders. Nine officers had been shot in the last seven days.