CHICAGO -- After a stunning rise in murder drew national attention to Chicago early this year, the city has seen a leveling off in killings, according to police statistics.
Through the end of September, 406 people were murdered this year -- nearly 28% more than the same period of 2011. But murders were up 66% this year through March.
Some experts have attributed the spring spike in murders to historically warm temperatures, which may have drawn more shooters outside.
Crime is down this year in every other major category, including sexual assault, aggravated battery, robbery, burglary, felony theft and motor vehicle theft, the department said.
Some of the most gang-ridden districts in the city, including Englewood on the South Side and Harrison on the West Side, have seen major reductions in homicides this year.
But other parts of the city -- including the Calumet and South Chicago Districts on the Far South Side and the Grand-Central District on the Northwest Side -- have continued to see disturbing levels of bloodshed.
Through the end of September, Calumet saw a 66% rise in slayings this year; South Chicago, a 76% spike; and Grand-Central, a whopping 80% surge.
Police attribute the violence to gang conflicts. The department estimates at least 75% of the city's violence is the result of gang activity.
A police spokeswoman said the department is trying to prevent gang shootings through a strategy using "gang audits" to pinpoint gangs' locations and their activity.
The department also is focusing on shutting down open-air drug markets and working with other agencies to keep them from coming back. The department says 26 street corners have been seized from gangs as part of the strategy.