CHICAGO -- Criticized as too slow in responding to the slaying of a 7-year-old boy by a sniper at a public housing development here last week, Mayor Richard M. Daley has announced a plan to sweep the projects of gangs and guns.
Holding aloft a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle confiscated at one development, he said yesterday, "You have to convince people that this is the most serious problem facing the nation: drugs and violence."
The boy, Dantrell Davis, was killed last week as he walked to school near the Cabrini Green development, about eight blocks from the affluent North Michigan Avenue shopping district. Since March, three pupils from the school have been fatally shot.
A 33-year-old man, who the police said was a gang member aiming at a group of teen-age rivals, was arrested and charged in the slaying.
So far this year, 782 people have been slain, 20 more than at this time last year, and news reports of drive-by shootings and children being killed over the jackets they wear seem almost commonplace. Still, Dantrell's killing has struck a nerve, spawning front-page articles and television reports.
"Unfortunately, it takes something like this to spark everyone's concern," Mr. Daley said. "We're declaring a war against the gangs."
Last week, while the head of the Chicago Housing Authority, Vincent Lane, was calling for the National Guard to patrol the development, Mr. Daley had little publicly to say about the slaying.
Two days later, he left for a celebrity golf tournament and a parents' weekend at his daughter's college in Connecticut, actions that were criticized at home.
A city alderman, John Steele, said yesterday: "I think he didn't display the type of sensitivity you would expect the chief executive officer of a major city to display."
Daley's plan includes emptying and closing four Cabrini Green high rises, including the one where the police believe the sniper hid. About 100 families would be moved to other buildings in the development.
The mayor said that the four buildings to be closed were sparsely occupied and that they had become a haven for gang members.
His plan also calls for starting recreation programs, improving lighting at the development and installing metal detectors at building entrances. Similar actions will be taken in the city's other developments.
The mayor said federal, state and local law enforcement agencies would go into the Cabrini Green complex, evicting unauthorized tenants and gang members.