CHICAGO — Nearly two dozen people have been charged in connection to Chicago-area expressway shootings as the state intensifies its crackdown on violent crime along highways.
The 20 cases relate to shootings dating back several months and include charges for four homicides, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said at a Monday news conference with Gov. JB Pritzker.
But even as Pritzker and Kelly were promoting increased surveillance and monitoring of expressways to deter shootings, another person was shot on the Dan Ryan, according to the Sun-Times.
Police responded to the shooting about 11 a.m. in the southbound lanes near Canalport Avenue. The victim was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening wounds, according to the Sun-Times. No other information was immediately available.
There were 273 expressway shootings in the Chicago area last year, more than double than in 2020, according to Illinois State Police.
The charges for the previous shootings include first-degree murder, attempted murder, carjacking and various gun violations, Kelly said.
Darnay Washington, 31, was charged with carjacking, robbery and fatally shooting a 37-year-old man Jan. 30, according to CBS Chicago. Police said the shooting occurred on the Division Street ramp of the Kennedy Expressway.
Antoine Scott, 31, was charged with fatally shooting a 35-year-old man driving north on I-57 near 159th Street in December.
In October, state police announced it would boost patrols along expressways and install 200 license plate readers to help police track down vehicles involved in these shootings. Nearly 100 automated license plate readers have already been installed along the Dan Ryan, with more to come, Kelly said.
“Drivers have had bullets come through their windshields, maiming or killing someone who’s just trying to get from point A to point B,” Gov. JB Pritzker said. “It can be anyone — an innocent child in the back seat, a friend you’re driving home.
“Anyone even thinking of committing violent crimes on our expressways ought to be on notice that they are more likely today than ever before to get caught. We will hold nothing back to keep the public safe,” Pritzker said.
Kelly and Pritzker said they believe many of the shootings stem from gang violence that originates in neighborhoods and spills over to expressways. The shootings can be difficult to investigate since the crime scene is “moving 70, 80, 90 miles per hour,” potential witnesses are hard to find if they continued driving and evidence could be scattered over a large territory, Kelly said.
Kelly said social media has also fueled a sort of “dueling” where people take their conflict out to the expressways.
Kelly said people involved in these crimes may be aware of various private and public surveillance cameras, but may not think they could get caught along highways. The added technology, which enables state police to get video of license plates as well as still images, will change that, Kelly said.
“If you engage in violence on our expressways, you will be identified, you will be found, you will be arrested and you will be charged with the most serious offense under the law,” Kelly said.
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