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Jewish Student Killed by Stray Gunfire in Chicago

Killing comes amid city’s surge in violent crime

High school students in Chicago wait for the bus in March, 2020 / Getty Images

• July 6, 2021 4:50 pm

A Jewish University of Chicago student died Sunday after being struck by a stray bullet on a city train—the second Jewish student killed in recent weeks in the crime-plagued city.

Max Lewis, 20, was commuting home from his summer internship Thursday when a bullet passed into his train and struck his neck. First responders transported Lewis, who was in critical condition, to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he passed away Sunday. Police say the student was not the shooter’s intended target, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Authorities have not provided a description of the suspect.

Thursday’s shooting follows the killing of 31-year-old Anat Kimchi, a Jewish University of Maryland doctoral student who was stabbed by a homeless person while visiting the city in June. Kimchi’s assailant, who has been charged with first-degree murder, allegedly attacked two other women over a nine-day span last month.

Both killings come amid a surge in violent crime in Chicago. Between Jan. 1 and mid-June, there were 1,587 shooting victims in the city—nearly 200 more victims compared with the same period last year, according to the Chicago Tribune. Over Independence Day weekend, more than 100 people were shot in the city, including a six-year-old girl.

During a press conference last month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot downplayed the crime spike, saying “crime is not out of control in our city.” “In fact, crime is on the decline,” Lightfoot said. “All of our major indices show a decline in our crime, and our homicides, and our shootings year over year are down.”

Chicago Police Department superintendent David Brown, however, has blamed lenient criminal prosecution for the city’s surge in violent crime, saying there are “too many violent offenders released back to our communities” and “too little consequences, ultimately, for violent offenders who are arrested, charged, and brought before the courts.” Illinois in February became the first state to abolish cash bail. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Chicago’s chief prosecutor, has also declined to prosecute thousands of misdemeanor offenses, as well as cases of felony theft, according to the Sun-Times.

Violent crimes against Jews have skyrocketed in recent years, spurring calls for state attorneys general to take action to protect their Jewish communities.

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