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Hundreds ransack downtown Chicago businesses after shooting

Volunteers help clean up the parking lot outside a Best Buy store, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, after vandals struck overnight in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago. Chicago’s police commissioner says more than 100 people were arrested following a night of looting and unrest that left several officers injured and caused damage in the city’s upscale Magnificent Mile shopping district and other parts of the city. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(AP) — Hundreds of people descended on downtown Chicago early Monday
following a police shooting on the city’s South Side, with vandals
smashing the windows of dozens of businesses and making off with
merchandise, cash machines and anything else they could carry, police

Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters that the
Sunday afternoon shooting of the man who had opened fire on officers
apparently prompted a social media post that urged people form a car
caravan and converge on the business and shopping district.

400 additional officers were dispatched to the area after the department
spotted the post. Over several hours, police made more than 100 arrests
and 13 officers were injured, including one who was struck in the head
with a bottle, Brown said.

Brown dismissed any suggestion that the
chaos was part of an organized protest of the shooting, calling it
“pure criminality” that included occupants of a vehicle opening fire on
police who were arresting a man they spotted carrying a cash register.

officers were wounded by gunfire, but a security guard and a civilian
were hospitalized in critical condition after being shot, and five guns
were recovered, he said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed that the
melee had nothing to do with a protest. “This was straight-up felony
criminal conduct,” she said. “This was an assault on our city.”

mayhem brightened the national spotlight that has been on Chicago for
weeks after a surge in gun violence that resulted in more homicides in
July than any month in decades. President Donald Trump, who has
repeatedly criticized the city’s handling of the violence, recently
ordered more federal agents to Chicago to take part in what Attorney
General William Barr called “classic crime fighting.”

ratcheting up the tensions in the city was a video circulating on
Facebook that falsely claimed that Chicago police had shot and killed a
15-year-old boy. Posted at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, the video shows upset
residents confronting officers near the scene where officers shot and
wounded an adult suspect who they said had fired at them that day. By
Monday morning, it had been watched nearly 100,000 times.

to the unrest described a scene that bore a striking resemblance to the
unrest that unfolded when protests over the death of George Floyd in
Minneapolis devolved into chaos. Brown suggested that the lenient
treatment of people arrested then played a role in what happened Monday.

many of those cases were prosecuted to the full extent,” he said.
“These looters, these thieves, these criminals being emboldened by (the
lack of) consequences … emboldened to do more.”

At the same news
conference, Lightfoot addressed looters directly, telling them that
police had collected a lot of surveillance video and other evidence that
will be used to arrest and prosecute as many as possible.

“We saw you, and we will come after you,” she warned.

County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx disputed any suggestion that her
office had shied away from prosecuting people who were arrested for
ransacking businesses weeks ago. She said none of those cases had been

“That is simply not true,” she said. “Those cases are coming to court now.”

of the vandalism showed huge crowds of people smashing their way into
businesses and streaming out of the broken windows and doors with
clothes and other merchandise. They loaded up vehicles, some moving
slowly and deliberately, apparently not worried about being caught by
police or being recorded by scores of cellphone cameras.

drove away slowly, some leaving behind boxes of rocks that they had
apparently brought to shatter the windows. Cash register drawers and
clothes hangers were strewn about the streets, along with automatic
teller machines that had been ripped from walls or pulled from inside

Stores miles from downtown were also ransacked, their
parking lots littered with glass and boxes that once contained
television sets and other electronics.

“This was obviously very
orchestrated,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a prominent Roman Catholic
priest and activist on the city’s South Side, told Chicago television
station WBBM.

The havoc left downtown residents rattled.

lived here for 20 years, and it’s getting scary, because you can’t walk
out now,” said Alan Freeman, who lives in the downtown area. “You don’t
know if they’re going to start with the people walking on the streets,
instead of the stores.”

Train and bus service into downtown was
temporarily suspended. Bridges over the Chicago River were lifted,
preventing travel to and from the downtown area, and state police
blocked some expressway ramps into downtown. Access was to be restored
later in the day.

Brown said the department would maintain a huge
presence in the downtown area indefinitely, telling reporters that all
days off had been canceled until further notice.

On the South
Side, police responded about 2:30 p.m. Sunday to a call about a person
with a gun in the Englewood neighborhood and tried to confront someone
matching his description in an alley. He fled from officers on foot and
shot at officers, police said.

Officers returned fire, wounding
the man, who was taken to a hospital for treatment. He was expected to
recover. Three officers also were taken to a hospital for observation,
the statement said.

Brown later said the 20-year-old man had a
long criminal history, including arrests for domestic battery and child
endangerment, He said a gun was recovered at the scene.

More than
an hour after the shooting, police and witnesses said a crowd faced off
with officers after someone reportedly told people that police had shot
and wounded a child. That crowd eventually dispersed.

But police later came across the social media post about a caravan of cars “being prompted to go to our downtown to loot,” Brown said. “Within 15 minutes, we respond and almost immediately the caravan is in our downtown area.”

Associated Press video journalist Teresa Crawford in Chicago contributed to this report.