Illinois State Police on Monday announced charges against 20 individuals, including 10 related to expressway shootings that have skyrocketed across the Chicago area in recent years.
Two people were charged late last month with first-degree murder in connection with separate deadly expressway shootings that took place last year, according to ISP.
Another person was charged last week with attempted murder related to an expressway shooting in December, ISP said, while involuntary manslaughter charges stemming from a separate December shooting have been approved against a fourth person who was already in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections on unrelated charges.
ISP highlighted five other expressway shooting arrests made since October: two for attempted murder, two for aggravated discharge of a firearm and another for reckless discharge of a firearm.
Police also detailed five arrests since Jan. 27 of individuals who have been charged with aggravated fleeing and alluding stemming from police pursuits on Chicago expressways.
Officials noted that an arrest warrant on first-degree murder charges was approved for an individual not yet in custody but who was alleged to have been involved in a May 2021 expressway shooting, as well as one for an unrelated armed robbery from July and a third for a suspect in an aggravated vehicular hijacking in November.
Three more arrest warrants were issued for individuals sought on charges of aggravated fleeing and eluding, according to ISP.
“All of these acts show a complete contempt for human life,” ISP Director Brendan Kelly said during a news conference announcing the charges.
“The message from the Illinois State Police today is simple,” he later added. “If you engage in violence on our expressways, you will be identified, you will be found, you will be arrested and you will be charged with the most serious offense under the law.”
The 10 arrests are a small figure relative to the staggering menace of expressway shootings that’s exploded across the Chicago area – including another shooting that shut down the southbound lanes of the Dan Ryan at Canalport late Monday morning shortly after ISP's news conference.
Expressway shootings in Illinois have more than doubled every year for the last three years, ISP data shows, with 310 shootings total in 2021, compared to 147 in 2020 and 51 in 2019.
Police have long said witnesses are few and far between in these incidents and that the crime scenes involve hundreds of feet of roadway, making these cases more complicated and difficult to solve.
Kelly suggested on Monday that perpetrators of the shootings may know that neighborhoods are dotted with cameras and may actually be flushing their targets onto the expressways where they don’t believe they will be seen.
But officials noted that there are 99 new license plate readers on the Dan Ryan – the expressway that sees far and away the most shootings – with 200 more to be installed across the Chicago area in the next year.
Kelly also argued that additional troopers directed to assist in expressway enforcements since Oct. 1 have made a difference, touting 5,000 traffic stops and hundreds of arrests.
“Only once has a shooting occurred in the line of sight of our troopers,” Kelly said. “So while they're out there, it's a visual deterrent.”
As of Monday, the Chicago area has seen 14 expressway shootings so far this year - roughly half the 27 that had occurred by this time last year.