CHICAGO (AP) — Two shootings on a Chicago expressway early Thursday left one person dead and another wounded, the latest incidents in a dramatic surge of gun violence on the city’s major roads.
According to the Illinois State Police, both shootings occurred in the northbound lanes of Interstate 55 within three hours. In the first incident, a person traveling on the interstate near Lake Shore Drive at 3:16 a.m. suffered what the state police called non-life-threatening injuries.
At 5:39 a.m., another person was shot near the ramp to Interstate 94. The person was pronounced dead a short time later at a hospital, the police said in a news release.
No arrests have been made in either shooting and the state police have not provided any details about either victim.
“This is a unique phenomenon,” said Brendan Kelly with Illinois State Police. “This is a rate of increase in this type of violence on the expressways that we have never seen before in this area.”
The incidents bring the total number of expressway shootings thus far this year in the Chicago area to 213 — more than double the 101 expressway shootings that the state police investigated during the same period in 2020.
“This is a game of inches,” Kelly said. “There is no hail mary pass to solve the violence that we are seeing occurring in these particular areas.”
About six weeks ago, the state police announced that it was increasing the number of troopers on expressways. At that time, the agency said at least 85 people were wounded in the shootings and 16 had been killed.
“We are seeing that have some effect. I can tell you the number of traffic stops, the number of citations, number of arrests have all gone up,” Kelly said. “Since we began this effort on Oct. 1, we have recovered over 200 firearms. That is a record number on these small sliver of expressways that go through the Chicagoland area.”
As of Nov. 14, the Chicago Police Department — whose figures do not include expressway shootings — had responded to 3,157 shooting incidents, which is nearly 300 more than occurred by the same date in 2020. At the same time, the number of homicides has increased in the city from 696 as of Nov. 14, 2020, to 715 by the same date this year. The vast majority of those victims were fatally shot, but the department has not specified how many.
“We know the majority of the shootings begin as a result of some disagreement some beef some argument that may be gang-related,” Kelly says, “or a drug deal gone bad.”