FBI Director James Comey said during a visit to Chicago on Monday that his agency would consider doing more to help stem street-level violence in the nation's third largest city, though he stopped short of offering specifics.
Comey's comments to reporters came after a particularly violent weekend in Chicago, where a 17-year-old girl and three other people were shot and killed between Friday afternoon and Sunday night on Chicago's South and West sides. More than 30 others were also wounded.
In remarks before fielding questions at the news conference, Comey listed counterterrorism, homegrown extremism and cybercrime as some of the FBI's top priorities. Asked later how high a priority reducing Chicago violence was, he responded, "Very high."
Flanking him was Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, though the city's top cop didn't speak during the event at the agency's Chicago office. During Comey's visit, which was planned well before the weekend shootings, he met with McCarthy, and state and federal officials.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois' two U.S. senators and others have been pressing for more than a year for the FBI, U.S. attorney's office and other federal law enforcement agencies to do more to combat the persistent violence, which claims hundreds of lives each year.
Comey said the FBI already devotes major resources to fighting gang- and drug-related violence in the city, saying around 100 agents are specifically assigned to violent-crime cases. But he said he talked to McCarthy and other officials about what more the agency could do.
"I asked them, please, think about ways we can make additional contributions," Comey said. "I don't know what that might be. But if there is, I want to do that."