CHICAGO, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- The start to the new year has been a particularly deadly one in the Windy City, where authorities say more homicides were committed this January than any other since 2000 -- owing partly to the month's violent final weekend.
Chicago police say 51 homicides were committed in January -- an increase of 22 over January 2015 (29) and more than double the number recorded in 2014 (20).
The final number was recorded after a violent weekend that saw six additional homicides.
The Chicago Police Department, which has been the focus of recent controversy over brutality claims, called the homicide spike "unacceptable."
Additionally, at least 292 people were shot last month -- more than double the number from January 2015.
Those killed in January were targets of gun violence, stabbings and deadly beatings, officials said.
It didn't take long for the city to record its first February murder, either. Officials said a man was shot dead downtown at 12:30 a.m. local time Monday.
Chicago is the nation's third-largest city but typically sees more homicides every year than any other American metro area, including New York, Los Angeles and Detroit.
The Chicago Police Department has been under intense scrutiny in recent months owing largely to the death of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black teen who was shot 16 times by an officer, in October 2014.
Critics have accused the department of using excessive force, although authorities say McDonald was carrying a knife.