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Expressway Shootings Are Spiking In Illinois, But Cameras That Record Video Still Aren't Up

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois State Police on Thursday afternoon were investigating yet another reported shooting on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

In this latest incident, a truck driver said he was shot at in the middle of the day on the inbound local lanes at 59th Street. This was the second shooting on the Dan Ryan in less than 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Chicago area expressway shootings have more than doubled since this time last year. On Thursday, CBS 2's Tara Molina was again asking the state why a multimillion-dollar camera system to keep us all safe is still not up and running.

On Wednesday evening, a man was driving a red Jaguar in the inbound Dan Ryan express lanes at 33rd Street, near Guaranteed Rate Field, when he was shot and seriously wounded. His passenger was not shot, but was also injured in a subsequent crash into a concrete pillar and had to be hospitalized too.

Police said over dispatch radio that gun was thrown onto the expressway, and a couple of shell casings were found in the victims' vehicle.

That was the 26th shooting on the Dan Ryan alone this year. The victim was shot in the head.

According to Illinois State Police, the shots were fired from an unknown vehicle. With no shooter in custody, they're asking for the public's help investigating.

That investigation has now been added to a long list of others, with 90 expressway shootings in Cook County this year alone - compared to 39 during the same timeframe last year, when there were a total of 128 shootings the whole year.

A total of 41 out of the 90 shootings this year resulted in injuries. Eight people died, 59 in total were shot.

This is the breakdown by expressway:

  • I-90/94 (Dan Ryan): 26
  • I-57: 13
  • I-290 (Eisenhower): 20
  • I-94 (Bishop Ford): 14
  • I-55 (Stevenson): 8
  • I-90/94 (Kennedy): 4
  • I-80: 3
  • I-94 (Edens): 1
  • IL-394:1

How many of their shooters have been tracked down and charged? Three cases involve charges right now, according to Illinois State Police. That's right, just three.

One suspect was charged with first-degree murder, one with being an armed habitual offender, and one with aggravated discharge of a firearm.

Would cameras help in those investigations? State Police have said so.

But for years now, CBS 2 has tracked the delayed installation and upgrades of the cameras rolling on Illinois' expressways. The 600 cameras up now still can't record video.

Back in February, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced a $12.5 million investment of taxpayer dollars for cameras and license plate readers that will go up in 47 different locations - specifically meant to help investigate expressway shootings.

So, where is that technology now?

IDOT told us to ask Illinois State Police, who told us they're still in the planning phase:

"In February of 2021, IDOT provided a $12.5 million grant to cover the costs of engineering, permitting, and labor associated with the purchase and installation of automated license plate readers (ALPR), controllers, servers/software, electrical power, and communications equipment required to install ALPR systems. The maintenance of the ALPR systems for up to two years is also included in this agreement. ALPR installations at 47 locations will include specialized cameras to read the license plate numbers of vehicles moving in traffic. The installations will also include a communication system to backhaul the video images to a central location where additional software is used to query and match license plates to existing license plate and vehicle databases. The purchase and installation of ALPR systems, software, and specialized cameras will aid in the investigation of Cook County expressway shootings. Currently, the Statement of Work is being finalized and a contract will follow to cover hardware and licensing for the next five years."

State Police also issued this statement for those who might be scared to drive on our expressways because of the shootings.

"One shooting is too many and the ISP is committed to working with administration, stakeholders, and relevant state agencies, such as IDOT to make our roadways safer for drivers. The increased installation of cameras along Cook County expressways will be a valuable tool for investigating expressway shooting offenses."

IDOT did say they continue to work with law enforcement to make the roads safer, and referred us to a February news release for information on funding for the cameras.
Gov. JB Pritzker has also spoken out on preventing expressway shootings in the past. As to the delay in getting the cameras up and rolling, Molina put in an request with Pritzker's office on Thursday, and CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov asked him about it in a one-on-one interview.

Pritzker told Kozlov state agencies are working together and we should see those cameras up soon. But there were no specifics from the governor Thursday.

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