CHICAGO (WLS) --Two people were killed Thursday in separate shootings on the Eisenhower Expressway, Illinois State Police said.
The first shooting occurred around 5:30 a.m. on the outbound lanes of I-290 near South Laramie Avenue. The second occurred nearly seven hours later, around 12 p.m., on the inbound lanes of I-290 near South Central Avenue. Illinois State Police said they do not believe the shootings are related.
The victims in the first shooting were identified as Jonathan David Oritz, an aspiring rapper who went by the name "John Doe," and his girlfriend Alexis Garcia, both 22, who were driving a white Jeep Liberty. Ortiz was killed; Garcia was shot in the back and is at Stroger Hospital in critical condition.
"He's a local rapper. Up and coming. He just performed at the House of Blues Sept. 9. Apparently he had the opening for Drake and Future Oct. 5 at the United Center. That was his big deal. That was upcoming. But apparently they took him from that," said Pedro Ortiz, the victim's brother.
The Jeep was found just before 6 a.m. on West Flournoy Street near South Lockwood Avenue, just north of the expressway. The driver's side window was blown out.
The victim in the second shooting was identified as 22-year-old Devon Almon, the passenger in the car with his girlfriend who was not injured. She drove Almon to West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park where he was pronounce dead.
A black, four-door sedan was towed from outside the emergency room, riddled with bullet holes. A witness near Central Avenue and the I-290 inbound ramp said they heard at least 10 shots fired.
"I heard three shots, quickly turned around a saw the fourth shot going into the car. By the time the fifth shot was going off, I was running up to the bushes. There was some four to five shots after that," said the witness, who did not want to be named.
Family said Almon barely made it into West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park before he died.
"They said he was coming from court, someone followed him and shot him, shot the car up," said his cousin LaVita Redmond.
Ortiz's relatives said neither he nor his girlfriend had gang ties.
"There's no history of him having any violence, any issues. There is no history of him associating with people he shouldn't be. There is just no history there that could point us to why this happened," said Frank Robles, Ortiz's uncle.
Pedro Ortiz made a desperate plea Thursday morning to whoever is responsible for killing his brother.
"Please stop the violence. Put the guns down. It's too much. Too much for everybody. This shouldn't have to happen to nobody," he said.
Both shootings remain under investigation.
RISE IN EXPRESSWAY SHOOTINGS CONCERNS DRIVERS
Word of the deadly day on the Eisenhower had many drivers on edge.
"It's a turkey shoot on the expressway. There's nowhere you can really go. The fact that it's spilling onto the expressway, that is rather alarming," said Matt Wilson.
"I try to stay off the expressway and try to take the streets as much as I can," said Darvese Crowder.
Thursday's shootings bring the number of area expressway shootings in 2016 to 42, an average of one per week. There were 39 total expressway shootings in all of 2015, and that was nearly twice as many as from 2014.
In response to the rising numbers, Illinois State Police launched a safety campaign in February.
State police said they've increased patrols from the air and on the ground and added undercover troopers on expressways, but the shootings continue.
"I don't bother nobody no more. If you cut me off then hey, cut me off. Do whatever you gotta do because I want to go home," said Keisha Watkins.
Authorities said road rage isn't to blame for the rise in shootings; instead it's the result of violence from the neighborhoods spreading to the expressway.
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin said it's time for federal authorities to get involved.
"This is terrorism, meant to scare people. These are acts that could deter people from wanting to travel on the expressway," Boykin said.
Anyone who witnessed either shooting or has any information pertinent to the investigations should call Illinois State Police at (847) 294-4400. Officials said callers can remain anonymous.