By Carey Gillam
(Reuters) - The death toll from a spree of gun violence in Chicago during the Fourth of July holiday weekend has risen to 17, the medical examiner's office said on Tuesday.
The holiday weekend brought an explosion of gunfire to the third-largest U.S. city, with 53 people shot, including five by police, according to the Chicago Police Department. Two of those shot by police died.
Cook County Medical Examiner Anthony Brucci said the tally of dead after a series of shootings on Friday through Sunday came to 17.
"This is a little over the top," Brucci said of the number of victims. "We've got a big job on our hands."
At a news conference on Monday morning, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called the violence unacceptable and blamed it in part on a "proliferation of firearms." There were 21 shooting incidents on Sunday alone, police said.
Despite the violent weekend, McCarthy said the police force was making progress in reducing violence and that police have seized more than 3,390 firearms so far this year. He said shooting deaths in Chicago were down this year, with 185 through July 6 compared with 196 through the same period in 2013.
The medical examiner's tally is not yet considered an official count because it had not yet been compared to police reports, police said. Chicago police have put the death toll at 11 shot dead, including the two killed by police.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Bill Trott and Will Dunham)