A gruesome string of violence in Chicago in being investigated right now to see if any of it is connected in any way whatsoever. It'd almost be more comforting if it were. Otherwise, these numbers are incredibly frightening - not just for Chicago, but for any city.

From around 6AM Saturday to 6AM Sunday, seven deaths. All of the shootings that took place last night spanned the city. Something like this happened last year. Most of them are being looked at as gang related, with exception to a few.

The shootings, in no particular order: A grocery store owner was found fatally shot yesterday morning in the back of his store on the North Side. A drive-by on the Near West Side that killed one. Three brothers, one fatally shot in a drive-by on the South Side. Three men shot, two fatally after a verbal spat on the West Side. A 26 year-old fatally shot in a drive-by on the Southwest Side. A 28 year-old fatally shot on the Southeast Side, sitting outside his home.

Elsewhere, Thursday night, five were shot in a drive-by on the South Side, including a 15 year-old kid, Friday evening, a guy who hijacked an empty school bus with one other employee aboard was killed at the end of the confrontation by police, and this morning, a 46 year-old man at a grocery store on the South Side was leaving with his groceries when he - as the story goes - pulled out a gun and aimed it at the store's security guard. After a struggle, the guard managed to shoot his assailant in the leg twice; the assailant's now in stable condition. "Police said the man may be homeless and credited the guard," notes the story, but there's something strange about a homeless guy being able to produce a gun. Possible, but doesn't seem likely. Finally, a 65 year-old man killed himself after a long standoff with police.

What's going on in Chicago that's causing all the violence this weekend? Totally rampant speculation: probably some unconnected extreme instances, and gang violence heating up (as it tends to do in the summer, when younger members are less likely to be in school). It can't help that their cops - like so many other large cities - have a reputation for being crooked. But Chicago's? In the last week, a Fire and Police City Council chair being brought up on corruption charges, in addition to a cop being indicted with a mob boss.

The only story on the wires about this is a small AP piece noting the number of shootings of the last night. Not to suggest some kind of vast, far-reaching, Salinger-backpocketing media conspiracy, but it's going to be interesting to see how these types of things are treated over the next few months in the Chicago and national media with the city's Olympic bid decision coming up in four months. Could just be a random string of shootings. It could be a pattern of American Violence that simply goes unnoticed until it comes up in number clusters like this. Whatever it is, it's really, really terrible for all of us. And a kick-you-when-you're-down item I had nowhere else to put: a Chicago petting zoo burned down Thursday, killing 75% of the animals in it. So maybe Chicago's just having one of those terribly unforgiving weeks. Probably not, though.