Out in force, intending to prevent the gun violence that plagues Chicago, police officers were confronted with a different problem during the July 4 festivities.
According to police, after the organized fireworks, people continued to light off firecrackers. Police say a private security guard mistook the fireworks for gunfire.
“Private security officers assigned to Navy Pier signaled a possible active shooter and began to caution the crowd to take shelter on the ground. This caused a stampede-like situation,” said Chief Fred Waller.
An unnamed witness said, “It was just chaos, a lot of people running away and children, and you know when one person runs, everybody runs so it was a domino effect.”
Adding to the confusion, one man ran into an upended table. Something sticking out of the table impaled his leg.
Police originally thought his injury was a gunshot wound. It is now estimated that 17 people were injured during the stampede. Most of the injuries are from people being trampled. None of the injuries are life-threatening.
In the chaos, police were handed one more problem. Officers said teenagers, just outside the entrance to the pier, were flashing gang signs. That sparked a fight and knives came out.
One person was stabbed in the armpit, the other stabbed in the arm and a rib. A third man, who police believe was not involved in the fight, was stabbed in the face.
This happens as the new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, was executing an initiative to get ahead of the violence. The plan involved 1,500 additional officers on the street during the holiday weekend, undercover units and a special task forces designated for high-traffic areas.
There are multiple agencies involved in the effort, additional boats on Lake Michigan and a call for the public to cooperate with the police.
“We all need to work together because we are all in this together,” Lightfoot said at a press conference before the holiday.
From July 3 until today, police made 30 gun arrests and seized 63 guns. Three of the guns police described as assault weapons.
Despite the effort – as of this writing – 33 people have been shot over the holiday weekend in Chicago. Three are dead. According to the Chicago Police Major Incident Notification system, the last person shot was at 7:25 a.m. Friday. He was shot in the shoulder and is listed in good condition at Stroger Hospital.
However, as is often the case with Chicago gunfire, the victim is not cooperating with police. In the likely event that he knows who shot him, he is not telling the cops.