40-year-old man shot, marking Chicago`s 500th homicide - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Chicago reaches 500 homicides after West Side fatal shooting

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

When Veronica Crowder unexpectedly ran into her younger brother, she warned him to "stay off" the streets.

"Stay off these street corners — don't be standing out here unless you want to go back to jail," Crowder said she told Nathaniel T. Jackson when she bumped into him at a bus stop a month ago.

Crowder said she didn't realize Jackson was out of prison until the two met that day.

"He said, ‘Hey Sis, how you been?' " a tearful Crowder recalled a day after the 40-year-old man was fatally shot and became the city's 500th homicide of 2012.

Police found Jackson shot multiple times -- including in the head -- outside a convenience store in the 4900 block of West Augusta Boulevard about 9 p.m. Thursday, authorities said.

Jackson, of the 4700 block of West Armitage Avenue, was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:18 a.m., the Cook County Medical Examiner's office said.

A police source said Jackson was a gang member. He leaves behind a daughter and a grandson, according to Crowder.

The last year the city's homicide total reached 500 was in 2008, which saw 512 murders, according to Chicago Police Department records. There were 435 homicides in 2011, according to city records. The city surpassed that total in October.

Numerous times, pastors like Corey Brooks have performed funerals for victims of gun violence--including one where a murder happened at a funeral.

"People want to believe the only ones who are getting shot and killed are these kids who are out here doing criminal activity, but there are some very innocent children who are just going on their daily, day to day activities of life and they're being gunned down," Brooks said.

Father Michael Pfleger says in order to bring about real change, we have to go after the culture of violence in this country.

"If we don't get to the root foundations of this, guess what? We are going to keep seeing this repeat itself over and over we got to deal with this gun issue," Father Pfleger says. "You know, why we have in American, assault weapons, and high magazines allowed is unbelievable to me."

Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. told FOX 32 News that its latest distinction of 500 lives lost in 2012 is nothing to be proud of.

Rev. Jackson called the city "almost a helpless target market for the trafficking of guns." He said with unemployment around 40-45 percent, the pervasiveness of mental illness and territorial struggle over guns and drugs, a low intensity war is being waged in Chicago.

The reverend explained the sentiment that with the escalation of the presence of semi-automatic weapons in the community, police cannot protect the people as well as they would like. He said if those military-style weapons can shoot down airplanes, they can kill police officers the same capability.

Rev. Jackson commented on the sense of helplessness seen in Chicago's residents, to curb the gun violence taking the lives of so many of their young people. He also commented on Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy's suggestion for a law to require gun transfer reports regarding the sale or loss of weapons.

Supt. McCarthy released a statement Friday, calling the city's new record "a tragic number that is reflective of the gang violence and proliferation of illegal guns that have plagued some of our neighborhoods." McCarthy also says the police department achieved a record drop in overall crime this year.

"CPD has put the right people in the right places to accomplish our long-term goal of reducing crime and ensuring that our streets and our neighborhoods belong to the residents of this city," the statement said. "Since the gang violence reduction strategy was adopted, we have seen drastic reductions in shootings and homicides that spiked early in the year."

The mayor's office also issued a statement calling the homicide numbers an "unfortunate and tragic milestone." The mayor said this is more than a law enforcement issue and that it's going to take a comprehensive city-wide effort to make the streets safer.

But, activists say police and community leaders have to work harder to change attitudes towards violence.

"If you grow up in one of these communities where violence is a learned behavior, it's the culture of that particular community, you have guys that premeditate what they're gonna do tonight, what they're gonna do tomorrow, so they get into a slight altercation or a beef or something, they're gonna take that person's life because they've been taught to do that," says the Director of Ceasefire Illinois, Tio Hardiman.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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