Chicago Homicides Hit 435, 2011 Total, With 2 Months Still To Go

During a weekend that saw at least six people killed in gun violence and another 14 wounded, homicides this year in Chicago hit 435, matching last year's total with two months to go.

Fitz Bariffe, 68, was fatally shot during a home invasion around 11 p.m. Sunday in the city's Princeton Park neighborhood, becoming the city's 435th homicide of 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Authorities said Bariffe had erected a fence in an attempt to keep drug dealers off his property shortly before his death, according to the Chicago Tribune. Police are now looking into whether a dealer was involved in the man's shooting death.

The weekend's other shooting fatalities were all males ranging in age from 21 to 35. (Visit the Sun-Times for a rundown of additional weekend gun violence in Chicago.)

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy made the rounds on the local news stations' Monday morning broadcasts and described the grim milestone as "disappointing" but noted that the city's homicide rate has been consistently declining since April.

McCarthy acknowledged to NBC Chicago that he expected the city's grisly start to the year would continue to grab headlines despite crime statistics heading in a more positive direction. Homicides this year are now up about 25 percent over last year -- but were previously on pace for as much as a 60 percent jump.

"Unfortunately we knew this time was coming," McCarthy told the station. "We got way behind at the beginning of the year, and unfortunately this is going to overshadow the progress that we're making."

On WGN, McCarthy lauded the city's new strategy of denying I-bonds to gang members previously eligible for release on certain misdemeanor charges. McCarthy credited the bond denials with reduced retaliatory gun violence.

Meanwhile, McCarthy has been criticized in recent days concerning funding of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy. The budget for the CAPS central office was zeroed out for the coming year, and police officials have offered conflicting explanations concerning how and in what form the program will continue to operate, the Chicago Reader reports.

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