Just hours after three undercover law enforcement officers were shot in Chicago on Wednesday morning, President Joe Biden visited with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot at an airport stop to discuss gun violence and federal support.
"During a greet with Mayor Lightfoot on the airport tarmac, President Biden expressed his personal support for the two ATF officials and the Chicago police officer who were shot earlier today," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Wednesday.
"He reiterated his commitment to working with the mayor and leaders in Chicago in the fight against gun violence and conveyed that the Department of Justice would soon be in touch about the strike force announced just a few weeks ago that will be working with cities like Chicago."
Earlier on Air Force One, Psaki spoke about billions in federal funds being diverted from unspent coronavirus stimulus that will be delivered to Illinois, the city of Chicago and Cook County.
"I will note that, in terms of the efforts the president has underway to address the rise in violence we've seen over the last 18 months, including in Chicago, there are a number of steps that impact Chicago directly and specifically, including — his Rescue Plan is giving cities like Chicago — alone is getting almost $1.9 billion through the Rescue Plan," Psaki told reporters. "Cook County is getting over $1 billion, and the state government of Illinois is receiving an additional $8.13 billion."
Over the July Fourth weekend, after Lightfoot had had a pair of heated exchanges with Newsmax correspondent William Kelly, 17 people were killed and 99 others were wounded in shootings in the city, the deadliest weekend of the year to date, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Our thoughts go out to the two ATF agents and the Chicago Police Department officer who were wounded, as well as their families and fellow agents and officers," Psaki told reporters en route to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. "As the president has said many times, every time a law enforcement officer pins on their shield and walks out the door, they’re carrying a sacred responsibility."
With Wednesday's shootings, 36 Chicago officers have been shot or shot at this year, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters.
"This is a very challenging time to be in law enforcement, but they are rising to the challenge of doing all they can — and the work they do is extremely dangerous," Brown said.
Meanwhile, the White House is focusing on guns with the gun trafficking strike force, according to Psaki.
"As a part of our gun crime reduction strategy, Chicago is also taking part in a community violence intervention collaborative with 15 jurisdictions nationwide to help them invest in proven evidence-based, community-based strategies," she said.
"And Chicago is also one of the five cities we announced recently that's going to be — we're going to be working with — the Department of Justice is going to be working with in launching a gun trafficking strike force — there's four other cities, I should say, nationwide — to help interrupt gun trafficking corridors that send crime into Chicago from across the city and state lines."
The three undercover law enforcement officers were "fired upon from the street" while driving onto an expressway on Chicago's South Side at 5:50 a.m. Central time near the 22nd District police station in the Morgan Park neighborhood.
While their injuries were not considered life-threatening, the Chicago officer was struck on the back of the head.
"It appears to be a graze wound," Brown said.
No arrests have been reported.
Newsmax's Kelly had intended to attend a news conference with Biden and Lightfoot on Chicago's gun violence epidemic, but Biden and Lightfoot met only on the airport tarmac and there was no press briefing on crime.
Material from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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