SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California Governor Gavin Newsom says highway shooting numbers dropped last year statewide for the second year in a row.
CHP says Bay Area highway shooting numbers also dropped, but some people ABC7 News talked with say there is still a major problem and more needs to be done, including getting all highway cameras up and fully operational.
The announcement comes a week and a half after a bullet went through a vehicle door, striking and injuring two children on I-880 in San Lorenzo and less than two months after a truck driver believes a bullet shattered out his window and nearly hit him along I-880 in Oakland.
But both Governor Newsom and CHP say that there is actually improvement when it comes to highway shootings.
All new numbers show that statewide last year confirmed freeway shootings are down, freeway deaths are down, and freeway injuries are down.
Sixteen people died in California highway shootings in 2021, that number dropped to 10 in 2022, and just four last year.
"Are these numbers great to see? Absolutely, but that doesn't mean we're stopping, right? It's just an indication that what we're doing is working," said Officer Andrew Barclay with the California Highway Patrol.
Officer Barclay says in the Bay Area, highway shooting numbers have dropped too. He says the highest number of cases involving these types of crimes are in Alameda and Contra Costa County. He credits partnerships between different law enforcement agencies and the information exchanged between them.
"Being able to find trends over multiple years of, for example locations where we see more shootings, days of the week, time of the day, things like that," said Officer Barclay. "What that allows us to do is adjust how we deploy resources."
While confirmed statewide shootings dropped from 349 in 2022 to 274 in 2023, ABC7 News spoke with the mother of 5-year-old Eliyanah who was shot and killed along I-880 in Fremont last April. She says these crimes are still being committed, and there needs to be stronger penalties for those who commit the crimes. Suspects in this case are still awaiting trial.
Caltrans confirms that 200 highway cameras are up across the Bay Area but not fully operational until spring. Hercules Mayor Dan Romero pushed hard for cameras years ago that were later installed in his area along I-80. He says these shootings are still happening and more local and state lawmakers need to demand that the cameras start being used.
"A camera sitting up on the freeway does us no good unless that information is going back to the police department," said Romero. "There could be a thousand cameras but if they're not operating and giving information back to the police department than they are just a camera."
As to those injured in freeway shootings, statewide that number dropped only slightly from 74 in 2022 to 68 last year. Certainly now a hope that those numbers continue to trend down.
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