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'I Fear Getting Hit From Behind': Chicago Area Expressway Shootings At An All-Time High

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Jeep Wrangler was left covered in bullet holes in the latest shooting on the Dan Ryan early Wednesday morning near 37th Street.

It was also the 43rd shooting on the Dan Ryan just this year, making it the most dangerous expressway in the area.

CBS 2's Tara Molina reported Wednesday on information from Illinois State Police, detailing every one of the shootings on the area's expressways this year. The numbers show the Dan Ryan is not only the most dangerous expressway for shootings, but there are specific areas worse than others.

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The location at 37th Street where the Jeep Wrangler was shot up is not one of the most dangerous sites. But that likely would not be of much comfort to William Bird.

"I knew they were gunshots right away," Bird said.

He didn't just hear it. Bird was behind the wheel feet away from those shots.

"The cars were approaching real fast from behind and the car in the outer lane shot at the car in the middle," Bird said.

He's happy to be OK.

"I fear getting hit from behind," Bird said, who added he'll think about it every time he gets on the expressway from now on.

He's not the only one.

The shooting he witnessed near 37th street is the 134th expressway shooting this year. That number is already higher than the total in 2020.

expressway shootings
(Credit: CBS)

But again, it's the 43rd shooting on the Dan Ryan, making it the most dangerous stretch of road.

CBS 2 mapped out every single one and found the five worst areas on the Dan Ryan. There were five shootings near 47th Street, four shootings near 95th Street, and three shootings each at 87th Street, 75th Street, and 63rd Street.

It's not just the where -- it's the when. CBS 2 found a plurality of the 134 expressway shootings this year happened between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

"The Dan Ryan, in particular, has certain intervals where it's probably repeat offenders here," said Dr. Joe Schwieterman, an expert in transportation and urban planning.

Schwieterman said the rise in shootings, specifically on the Dan Ryan, could end up having a major economic affect on the city.

"We have enough problem right now with our image with crime without this sort of drive-by motorist risk," he said.

Illinois State Police said they are saturating Chicago-area expressways right now to combat this violence.

Below is a statement from Illinois State Police on the expressway shootings:

Along with multiple ongoing initiatives and specialty teams specifically dedicated to the mission of stopping and combating gun violence on our expressways, the Illinois State Police continue to proactively patrol and saturate the Chicagoland expressways with the goal of ensuring public safety. We are reallocating additional Troopers from around the state to combat gun violence and future cadet classes are committed to District Chicago to increase manpower to fight gun violence on the expressways. 

We continue to collaborate extensively with the Chicago Police Department and other local and federal agencies on a variety of enforcement and gun violence reduction efforts. We are also working with our state and federal partners on gun enforcement details to keep those who are prohibited from carrying weapons from having them. We continue to work with our state and federal partners to share intelligence on gun violence and gun trafficking. 

Recently, the ISP received a $12.5 million grant from IDOT for the purchase and installation of automated license plate readers (ALPR), software, and specialized cameras to aid in the investigation of Cook County expressway shootings.

The ISP has identified the vendor, executed the contract, completed the scope of work and ordered and received equipment. We are working with IDOT and CDOT to establish power at the sites. When power sources at the sites are established, cameras installation will begin. The ISP is aggressively moving forward in the process so camera and ALPR software installation can be completed in the coming weeks.

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