ROCKFORD (WREX) — Rockford has reached a "breaking point," Chief Dan O'Shea said Monday about a rash of recent violence both over the weekend and over the last few months.
Since Friday, Rockford saw two murders and a total of 8 shot. O'Shea and Winnebago County State's Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross said the violence is a trend seen since March.
Eighteen people have been murdered in shootings since March, O'Shea said, providing a map of where in Rockford people have been shot.
O'Shea and Hite Ross said they held Monday's news conference to put a plea out to the public for information on any recent shootings. Despite the COVID-19 and recent mistrust of police and the criminal justice system, O'Shea and Hite Ross echoed that gun violence in Rockford is another crisis.
"Gunfire is not slowing down and the dispute between certain street gangs is not getting better," O'Shea said, mentioning two rival gangs at the center of most of Rockford's shootings. He said many of the firearms are stolen and asked the public to make sure their guns are secure.
However, Hite Ross said "whether a person is a gang member or not does not determine the value of their life when they are taken by gunfire."
The two latest victims of gunfire are Eric Elliot and Jamerion Boose, who were killed in two separate shootings late Friday and early Sunday on Sage Drive and 10th Street.
Hite Ross said the families of Elliot, Boose and 16 other families are welcome to be a part of Tuesday's Homicide Memorial. The memorial, which happens each year, allows families of loved ones lost to homicide to come together to grieve.
"It's a group that no one signs up for," Hite Ross said about the memorial.
This year, because of COVID-19, the memorial will be virtual at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26. Anyone is invited to join.