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Illinois State Police Announce Charges Against 20 People In Connection With Expressway Shootings

CHICAGO (CBS) -- On the heels of a surge in expressway shootings last year, Illinois State Police and Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday announced charges against 20 people in the past several months.

The charges include three cases of first-degree murder; one case of involuntary manslaughter; three cases of attempted murder; and multiple counts of gun charges, carjacking, and fleeing police. In some cases, while warrants have been issued, arrests have yet to be made.

Among those charged in expressway shootings, Illinois State Police said 31-year-old Darnay Washington was charged last month with one count of first-degree murder, one count of armed robbery, and one count of aggravated vehicular hijacking in the carjacking, robbery, and shooting death of a 37-year-old man on Jan. 30, 2022. Police said the shooting happened on the Division Street ramp to the southbound Kennedy Expressway, and the victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Washington was charged in the shooting and an armed robbery and carjacking four hours earlier in Chicago.

Also, 31-year-old Antione Scott has been charged with first-degree murder in a fatal shooting in December on Interstate 57. A 35-year-old man was shot and killed while driving north on I-57 near 159th Street on Dec. 19.

Illinois State Police said they also have secured a first-degree murder arrest warrant for a suspect in a fatal shooting on a Chicago expressway in May 2021. However, police said Due to the circumstances of the fugitive investigation, further details are not available.

Police also said an unnamed person already in prison on unrelated charges is a suspect in a fatal expressway shooting on Dec. 13, and police are working with prosecutors to secure involuntary manslaughter charges.

"There has been very good collaboration at all levels to solve these cases, to identify these violent perpetrators, and bring them to justice," Pritzker said Monday morning at a press conference at the ISP forensic crime lab in Chicago.

Illinois State Police reported 273 expressway shootings in the Chicago area last year, more than double the number in 2020.

"Drivers have had bullets come through their windshields, maiming or killing someone who's just trying to get from Point A to Point B. It can be anyone; an innocent child in the back seat, your friend you're driving home. These are crimes that are often spilling over from criminal activity or gang disputes that began in Chicago neighborhoods, and the best way to stop them once they enter our highways is to bring the power of the troopers and the technology of the ISP to bear," Pritzker said.

In an effort to reduce expressway shootings in the Chicago area, since October of last year, Illinois State Police have stepped up preventive patrols on expressways, backed up by air operations and K-9 units. ISP also has begun installing automated license plate readers, with 99 already in operation on the Dan Ryan, and hundreds more to come for Chicago area expressways.

"If we want to reduce crime, we have to solve crimes, and we have to make the investments in communities to avert the underlying causes of criminal activity," Pritzker said. "Between he stepped up patrols, and the new technology we've brought to bear, anyone – anyone – even thinking of committing violent crimes on our expressways ought to be on notice that they're more likely today than ever before to get caught. We will hold nothing back to keep people safe."

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said the department is "aggressively focused on making our expressways safer."

Kelly also noted that expressway shootings are more complicated to solve than the average shooting on city streets.

"Without a doubt, expressway shootings have been singular in their complexity and degree of difficulty when it comes to investigations. Most crime scenes are not moving 70, 80, or 90 miles per hour with hundreds of vehicles traveling through them," Kelly said. "Unlike the typical secured crime scenes, debris fields may stretch for several hundred yards, or even a mile. Victims are often uncertain exactly where the incident even occurred, and witnesses are a challenge to locate. A witness in a nearby vehicle could be driving through Chicago, and live 1,000 miles away, and may not even realize what occurred next to them, or what they observed in relation to the crime."

As for why expressway shootings spiked last year, Kelly said one factor is that social media beefs have effectively begun turning into duels on expressways, as shooters film their crimes and post the video on social media. Another factor is shooters essentially chasing their targets onto expressways in order to shoot them where, until recently, there have not been cameras capable of catching them in the act.

With 99 automated license plate readers already up and running on the Dan Ryan Expressway, Illinois Sate Police said they are working with state and city agencies to install another 200 license plate reader cameras in the Chicago area over the next year.

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