Dan Ryan shooting upstages governor’s news conference on state’s efforts to make Chicago expressways safer

As he and the state police director spoke, a person was shot on the Dan Ryan Expressway near downtown, the 14th person shot on an expressway in Cook County this year.

SHARE Dan Ryan shooting upstages governor’s news conference on state’s efforts to make Chicago expressways safer
Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times file

Hoping to curb rising crime on Chicago expressways, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the director of Illinois State Police held a news conference Monday to spotlight arrests that have occurred since patrols were increased and more surveillance cameras were installed.

But as they spoke, a person was shot on the Dan Ryan Expressway at Canalport near downtown — the 14th person shot on an expressway in Cook County this year. No arrests were reported.

The governor and State Police Director Brendan Kelly insisted their efforts since last fall have made expressways less attractive for committing crime. They said 20 people were charged with violent crimes after more troopers were deployed in October and nearly 100 cameras were placed on the Dan Ryan.

“Anyone even thinking of committing violent crimes on our expressways ought to be on notice that they are more likely today than ever before to get caught,” Pritzker said. “If we want to reduce crime, we have to solve crime.”

Neither he nor Kelly provided examples of crimes being solved by the 99 new license-plate-reading cameras on the Dan Ryan. A spokeswoman for Pritzker later said that 14 of the 20 cases charged had used evidence from the cameras. State police said they installed them last year and have plans to install 200 more on other expressways with $12.5 million in state funding.

There were 273 shootings reported in 2021 on expressways in Cook County, about double from the year before, according to state police’s online expressway shooting dashboard. So far this year, there have been at least 14 shootings on Chicago area expressways, fewer than the 25 shootings reported last year during the same period.

Four people have been recently charged with murders going back a year ago.

  • Last month, Darnay Washington was charged with fatally shooting someone on Jan. 30, 2021 on a ramp from Division Street to the Kennedy Expressway. Investigators later learned that Washington, 31, had carjacked someone four hours earlier.
  • Involuntary manslaughter charges are pending in a fatal expressway shooting on Dec. 13 last year.
  • A 19-year-old Hammond man has been charged with attempted murder from a Dec. 15, 2021 shooting on the Bishop Ford at 159th Street.
  • A man has been charged with murder in an expressway shooting in May 2021, but the person is not in custody.

Shootings continued to rise in 2021, even after state police began installing cameras.

Kelly said expressway shootings began spiking at the start of the pandemic for two reasons: There were fewer cameras on expressways compared with neighborhoods in Chicago, making expressways better for an escape from crimes; and social media is providing a place for people to exchange threats.

“It’s almost like a modern form of dueling,” Kelly said. “They threaten one another and say let’s take that out onto the e-way.”

In October, Kelly said state police were increasing patrols in Chicago. Since then, troopers here initiated nearly 5,000 traffic stops, 232 arrests for driving under the influence, 69 firearm recoveries, 133 criminal arrests and responded to over 4,900 crashes, Kelly said.

Solving crimes on expressways is more complex than in more typical cases, Kelly said.

“Most crime scenes are not moving 70, 80 or 90 mph with hundreds of vehicles traveling through them,” he said. “Unlike typical secured crime scenes, debris fields can stretch several hundred yards or even a mile. Many victims are often uncertain where the incident occurred, and witnesses can be a challenge to locate.”

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