There were three shootings within a mile of each other in Chicago last weekend, leaving two people dead. Some 17 people were shot around the city, most of them in neighborhoods where a higher level of violence is more common.

It was the shootings downtown, one outside a major theater that canceled its evening performance, that captured most of the attention from the media and city leaders, including the Mayor, who had to address the violence Monday at an unrelated news conference.

Police leaders immediately responded to the violence by announcing they would be increasing their resources downtown.

There are a variety of reasons why downtown gets so much attention.

The economic engine of the city is generating millions in tax revenue and tourism dollars. The police department is struggling to address the higher rates of violence in Chicago's neighborhoods.

The civic heartbeat of the city is downtown, a place where Chicagoans from Rogers Park to Roseland come together for concerts, to hit the beach, spread out on a lawn for a picnic, or splash in.

Bill Savage, who has taught Chicago literature and culture for 30 years, said that Chicagoans feel like they own the loop. It is about you if it is happening in the loop.

Statistics show violence dip

Gun violence is down so far this year, welcome news in a city that has seen a 60% increase in shootings over the last two years.

The recent headlines about downtown trouble have served as yet another reminder of how entrenched the gun violence problem is here, and how it is touching all parts of the city.

The number of people shot around the downtown area has increased in recent years, and as of last week, 19 people had been shot combined in the Near North and Loop communities, compared with eight last year.

The violence in Chicago has led to pledges from mayoral candidates to remove police Supt David Brown if they are elected, with those who oppose them citing a lack of strategy to address the violence.

Brown was hired during a time when programming and services were shut down. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police caused trust in policing to plummet across America. There is a sense that the stress of a Pandemic combined with the increased scrutiny on police could have played a role in the spiking gun violence.

When gunfire rings out downtown, the level of concern increases for the Chicago Police Department and Brown.

Some leaders and the business community worry about more than just shootings. Large groups of young people gather downtown on Saturdays and Sundays, and there have been concerns about their safety.

Chicago police did not provide any information about the response. The Tribune was referred to the news conference by the mayor's office, in which she said downtown would be getting more resources.

The difficult task of dealing with years of unaddressed violence in certain Chicago neighborhoods was discussed by Lightfoot.

They have lived with no investment. They have been living with the lack of attention to violence for a long time.

The need for those who engage in violence to face serious consequences is a familiar theme.

Deborah Gershbein, president of the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, said that residents were on edge after the incidents downtown.

Gershbein said the level of gun violence in the entire city is unacceptable and she understands long-term approaches are needed, but her neighbors are scared to walk at night.

I have lived in this neighborhood for 32 years. It has never been like this before. Gershbein said that he used to walk everywhere.

Both experts and community organizers told the Tribune that they shared fears about a central gathering space like the Loop suffering from gun violence and that there was an opportunity for shared solutions.

Stovall said that there is an alienation in communities that have been carved out of resources and opportunity and that is playing a role in the surge in gun violence. Everyone needs to support thoughtful solutions.

Lincoln Park has never had this problem before. Stovall is a professor of criminology, law and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Fortunately, the solutions aren't short-term.

There is a chance for new momentum.

The key is to connect ourselves to the parts of the city we don't live in. This is a difficult leap. Can people from Jefferson Park who work downtown imagine what it would be like to live in Garfield Park?

A violent weekend

The downtown shootings started at 1 a.m. In the 300 block of North State Street.

Two women from the North Lawndale neighborhood were shot by a man during an argument. One of the women died.

An 18-year-old man was shot and killed in a dispute at the Sonesta hotel on East Walton Place on Sunday. Two men were shot in an alley in the 100 block of North Wabash after a robbery and drug deal went bad.

The theater was forced to close after the shooting and cancel a performance of Moulin Rouge.

There have been no charges filed so far.

A man who was walking home with his wife from the gym was one of the two people injured in the shooting.

The man who asked not to be identified said he heard a pop and felt pain in his hand.

The couple heard a second shot as they got behind the car.

He said that he put two and two together quickly. It's not something that I've ever experienced before, so it was kind of like seeing what happened.

He said he is not afraid to be downtown despite the shooting being a 20-minute walk from his home. He plans to avoid the area in the future.

It is a statistical chance that this will happen if you are in a big city. I believe that downtown is still a very safe area. I feel safe walking around it.

Different in the neighborhoods

Despite the attention downtown incidents receive, gun violence in neighborhoods is a daily experience that is harder for residents in some areas to escape.

According to the city's data portal, the shooting rate per 10,000 residents in the Near North community was 1.3 and 1.8 through May 3. In the city's historically less safe neighborhoods, the rate is as high as 21 in West Garfield Park.

Chondra Wright works with young people who are exposed to violence in the Greater Grand Crossing area to try to prevent the kind of violence that is happening in other parts of the city.

She walks from Rush Street to the Cloud Gate sculpture on a regular basis. She has been rattled by the shootings in Chicago.

Wright agrees that the violence is indicative of what is happening in the neighborhoods. She said that solutions need to go beyond a weekend deployment strategy. She said it was about a vision and effort.

Wright said that he was a Chicagoan through and through. People migrate to that space for peace, freedom, and enjoyment. If we could have the same spirit in any part of Chicago, what would it be like?