Another bloody night on Chicago's gun-plagued streets

Scene of a shooting in Chicago on 8/1/13 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chicago has one of the worst problems with gun violence in the US, with more than 500 people shot dead in the city last year

"How old was the dead guy?" "Elderly." "Yeah, old, in his 40s."

A cop car sat, its lights flashing, in front of an alleyway in Chicago's South Side. All around the block ran a thin yellow line of police tape.

A few people stood around in the heavy rain, in the dark, doused in neon and flashing lights, watching the little activity there was between Thelma's wig emporium and Greg's barbers.

They might have just been waiting for the bus, but they weren't.

No-one debated America's gun laws. No-one talked about John Boehner or the National Rifle Association (NRA).

A cop did come out of the alleyway. He talked to another cop and wandered off, bathed in the artificial light, the reddish glow from the shops and the gentle blue strobe of his own car's light.

Someone said the old man's dog had been shot too, and others tutted.

A woman said she had spent the afternoon with the man whose body had not yet been covered. He was called "Pops".

No-one seemed surprised or shocked, not even the woman who had spent the afternoon with him. You could see his body, slightly curled, and if you looked really hard, the blood.

Confused night

We had been in the hotel waiting for a call. Chicago's murders are that predictable. You can have a beer and wait for someone to be killed.

Some 506 deaths by gun last year.

Pops would have been the 12th, 13th or 15th of 2013. No-one seems really sure.

We went in the car to the South Side. A couple of miles I guess, four of five at the most. Light years too from the centre of Chicago. The light will take years to reach here.

Shay knows the area and had been telling us about the rap wars, and how teenage chest-beating, lyrical, jokey abuse, had ended with bodies on the street, when the scanner's call came in.

Shay played "Lil Mouse" on his iPhone - a 13-year-old rapper who enthusiastically sings with a shrill voice against old-fashioned dreamy backbeats of a meaningless blood feud that disfigures the best city in America.

One day soon I will tell you about this war.

But tonight was just another night when someone you have never heard of died.

Someone whose face you will never see on a TV screen. A murder most local reporters did not turn out to record. Why bother?

I guess more people are shot than die in road accidents, although that is just a guess.

The dog was a bit weird, though.

In the car, Shay told us there was another odd detail. The police said "two shootings, one dead on the scene. And stabbing". Shay said that it might be a domestic. "You only stab people you love," he said.

Nobody there knew about the stabbing, although before we left someone said the dog had survived.

The mortuary report said Pops was 39.

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