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Off-duty Chicago officer latest carjacking victim in city

January 5, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this May 31, 2020 file photo, several street bridges over the Chicago River remain closed in Chicago, after a night of unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. The year 2020 ended in Chicago with more homicides than in all but one year in more than two decades. As in other cities, Chicago police attribute much of the increase in gun violence to the global coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest that erupted after Floyd died after being forcibly detained by Minneapolis police.  (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
FILE - In this May 31, 2020 file photo, several street bridges over the Chicago River remain closed in Chicago, after a night of unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. The year 2020 ended in Chicago with more homicides than in all but one year in more than two decades. As in other cities, Chicago police attribute much of the increase in gun violence to the global coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest that erupted after Floyd died after being forcibly detained by Minneapolis police.  (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO (AP) — An off-duty police officer is the latest victim of a carjacking in Chicago, where carjackings more than doubled in 2020 over a year earlier, authorities said Tuesday.

The officer was in her car on the South Side on Monday night when three people climbed from a car that pulled in front of her, tapped her window with a gun and ordered her out of the vehicle, police said. The officer was not injured and her vehicle was recovered a few miles away.

The number of carjackings has skyrocketed in Chicago, as well as in cities across the United States. According to the most recent statistics available, there were 1,442 carjackings through Dec. 27 in Chicago alone, compared to 626 for the same period in 2019. Police have said the pace of carjackings picked up dramatically in early June — right after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked civil unrest in Chicago and around the nation.

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Some Chicago carjackings have turned deadly, most recently on Dec. 21 in the Bridgeport neighborhood on the South Side, when 33-year-old Shuai Guan was fatally shot. Later that day, a 16-year-old boy was spotted driving the stolen vehicle, captured and charged with aggravated vehicle carjacking with a firearm and one count of possession of a stolen vehicle.

Police at the time said the teen, whose name was not released because of his age, was a suspect in the slaying. But as of Tuesday he had not been charged in Guan’s death, said Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan, who said detectives are searching for a second suspect.

And on Dec. 3, Dwain Williams, a 65-year-old retired Chicago Fire Department lieutenant, was confronted by three assailants as he walked toward his SUV, and was fatally shot during an exchange of gunfire with his attackers. Four people, have been arrested and charged with murder, the latest of whom was captured by the FBI in Pennsylvania last week.

Overall, the number of homicides and shootings in Chicago spiked dramatically in 2020, ending with more bloodshed than in all but one year in more than two decades, according to statistics released last week by police.

Deenihan attributes much of the spike in carjackings and other violent crimes to the pandemic and the social unrest following Floyd’s death. He said criminals are emboldened, especially because they can wear masks that hide their identities as well as prevent against the spread of COVID-19.

In Chicago, where gangs shootings are responsible for a huge chunk of the city’s homicides, Deenihan said gangs are turning to carjacking as a way to better carry out those battles.

“When we end up charging someone with murder because we’ve tracked their cars ... they will use stolen cars to do the shootings so they’re not attached to the car,” he said. “These guys are smart.”