State Police announce surge of troopers to curb expressway shootings

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - More Illinois State Police troopers and officers from other agencies will patrol Chicago’s expressways after a drive-by shooting that shut down the outbound Kennedy Expressway this week.

The number of officers on the expressways will rise from about 22 a day to between 30 and 35 a day, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. Most of the additional officers will patrol at night and in the wee hours, some in unmarked vehicles, officials said Wednesday.

The surge in officers will include troopers as well as officers from the Illinois attorney general’s office, the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Cook County sheriff’s office.

“Our goal is to be visible on the interstate system,” said Illinois State Police Maj. Luis Gutierrez at a news conference held in a parking lot off the Kennedy Expressway.

The surge of officers will continue until the shootings abate, Gutierrez said.

Shootings have escalated on Chicago’s expressways in recent years. The problem was highlighted at 5:10 a.m. Monday when someone in a blue Chevy Trailblazer fired three shots at a white Toyota Camry on the Kennedy near the Edens Expressway junction. The woman driving the car was not hurt.

The state police shut down the outbound lanes of the Kennedy at the Edens to search for bullet casings. The lanes reopened around 8:15 a.m.

In 2010, there were six shootings on Chicago-area expressways. The number jumped to 16 in 2013 and 19 in 2014. So far this year, there have been 26 shootings on the expressways.

In the past two years, one person was killed and 23 people were wounded in the shootings, according to the state police.

Most of the shootings are gang related, but some of the drivers were randomly targeted. Few, if any, appear to have been the result of road rage, police said.

The majority of the expressway shootings happen early in the morning on Saturday and Sunday.

There were 1,410 shooting incidents in Chicago’s neighborhoods this year through Aug. 9, an 18 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Many of the expressway shootings appear to have stemmed from chases that started in Chicago neighborhoods and spilled on to the expressways, police said. Most of the shooters don’t get caught, but three men are facing trial on murder charges in a 2012 shooting on the Dan Ryan Expressway that killed Larry Porter, 25.

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