Chicago area highway shootings more than triple since 2010

The I-Team has found that gunfire on Chicago-area highways is now happening, on average, several times a month.
ABC7 I-Team Investigation
An ABC7 I-Team investigation has found that local highway shootings have more than tripled in recent years, and state police officials say that road rage isn't to blame.

Gunfire on Chicago-area highways is now happening, on average, several times a month.

"We just heard a 'pop' and then my window shattered," said Krissandra Brown, whose car was shot on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Last week, a car and an ambulance were shot up on the Dan Ryan in the middle of the afternoon rush. But the bullets know no boundaries.

The I-Team reviewed shooting logs maintained by Illinois State Police obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

They revel that in 2010, there were six shootings on Chicago-area expressways. By last year, that number had jumped to 18.

The number increases even more - to 28 - when you include "reported shootings." That's when someone calls 911 to say they saw gunfire but state police couldn't find evidence that bullets hit "anything" or "anyone."

"I saw what looked like gunshots. The first on that I saw was right here," said Dr. Brad Schubert, pointing to his car window.

Schubert is a doctor who was heading home from work in Oak Park last October when his car was shot at on the Eisenhower Expressway.

"It seemed as though he kept shooting as he was slowing down to fall behind, and the bullets went into the back passenger window," Schubert said.

He says there was no road rage. No interaction. It was a routine commute home at 6:30 p.m. in Hillside.

State police now think Schubert's car may have been shot at with a pellet gun.

"If it were a real powerful gun and it had gone through the window, it could have caused some real damage to me," Schubert said. "It could have been much worse."

State police data reveal the scene of last week's gunfire - the Dan Ryan - is the most dangerous highway when it comes to shootings, as 18 were reported in the last two years. That's followed by the Eisenhower and the Kennedy expressways.

As for the most dangerous time to drive, troopers say it's weekends between midnight and 5 a.m.

"It's very rare that we see road rage incidents turn into shooting incidents. A lot of these are targeted incidents that are directed at gang members," said Major Luis Gutierrez, Illinois State Police.

State police say as shootings in Chicago neighborhoods increase, some of that conflict spills onto local highways. Expressway shootings are also harder to investigate. Crime scenes can be spread over miles.

While the Illinois Department of Transportation maintains a network of 288 cameras monitoring expressways, the I-Team has learned that most don't record video.

"There's a lack of assistance from witnesses. Not too many folks are stopping and providing information," Gutierrez said.

And that has drivers looking twice in their rear-view mirror.

"I'm much more aware of my surroundings now, especially when I'm driving," Schubert said.

State police plan on beefing up their patrols of highway shooting hotspots this summer. They plan to bring in an extra 20 troopers to work those hotspots on summer weekends.

While police say most of the shootings are the result of gang conflicts spilling over onto area roadways, the reality is, bullets don't know their intended targets.
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