Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A wave of looting and vandalism struck Chicago's Magnificent Mile and downtown area early Monday as police struggled to contain the melee, at one point exchanging live fire with suspects.
Police and witnesses said hundreds converged on Magnificent Mile shopping area along North Michigan Avenue after midnight and began smashing windows and looting stores, including Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue.
More looting was seen seen further south in the Loop district, where police said they exchanged gunfire with a passing car early Monday.
Police spokesman Tom Ahern said two people were shot, several officers were injured and there were numerous arrests.
Chicago Fire Department officials said a security guard was among the wounded and was taken to a hospital with critical injuries.
Authorities said the vandalism was not connected to any civil rights protest, like those that have occurred nationwide in recent months.
"Criminals took to the streets with the confidence that there would be no consequences for their actions," Supt. David Brown told reporters early Monday, calling the violence "pure criminality."
"You have no right to take and destroy the property of others," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot added. "We are coming for you. ... I don't care what justification was given for this. There is no justification."
Chicago Transit Authority train and bus service downtown was temporarily suspended but eventually restored before the Monday morning rush hour.
Chicago has seen rising trends of violence in recent years, including hundreds of homicides and almost regular bouts of gunfire. The same areas were hit by looting after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and many of the businesses vandalized Monday had only recently reopened.