Chicago Killings Raise Parents' Fears

City is on edge as SWAT teams patrol streets to put an end to deadly crime wave.

ByABC News
April 26, 2008, 8:31 PM

CHICAGO, April 26, 2008— -- All day, Chicago was a city on edge, with police gearing up to combat the waves of violence that have hit the city hard over the past few weeks.

Police SWAT teams are saturating the city's South Side, the area where most of the 331 shootings in the city this year have occurred. The teams are out in street patrols, backed up by helicopter surveillance.

It's their response to last weekend's shooting spree, which alone counted for an estimated 36 of those shootings, seven of them deadly.

Jitters Weatherspoon, a South Side native, said the violence in his neighborhood is forcing him and other parents to hold their children hostage in their own homes, for fear of seeing them get shot.

"That's a parent's worst dream is to have to bury their own kid and yes, it's happening. People are burying their kids," he said.

Recently, he came close to realizing that nightmare. His son was carjacked at gunpoint.

"He turned around and saw the guy waving a gun at him," Weatherspoon said.

His son escaped, but 23 other children this school year weren't as lucky -- they were killed in one of the most violent school years in the city's history.

A fired up Mayor Richard Daley held an emergency community meeting on Friday in which he blamed parents for letting the problem spiral out of control.

"I want you to call a meeting in your home, with your children and your loved ones," he said. "I want you to go next door and talk to those children next door. I want the parents of the block to say, this block will be free of violence."

Daley said stopping the bloodshed can't be solved by police alone.

For now, Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said, police will be out in full force to show a united front against the violence.

"Let the communities know that we're out here," Weis said. "We want to let everybody in the community including some of the people that might be wondering what we are doing out here, like the criminals."

However, Weatherspoon and others have their doubts that one weekend's worth of patrols can put an end to the bloodshed.