Push for working cameras on Bay Area freeways after 3 shootings in 5 days

J.R. Stone Image
Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Push for working cameras on Bay Area freeways after recent shootings
Bay Area leaders say the need for working cameras on highways is dire in light of the recent shootings.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Tuesday marked at least the third time in the last five days that CHP officers closed part of a Bay Area highway to investigate a freeway shooting. It happened Tuesday afternoon in Oakland along I-980.

"Vehicle had bullet holes on the passenger side. The shots occurred somewhere on 980," is what was heard on the scanner. Dispatch describing the scene along Interstate 980 in Oakland Tuesday afternoon around 2:45."

"Caller had advised seven to nine shots heard. They advised they were next to the freeway in that area and it sounded like it came from the freeway."

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California Highway Patrol officers could be seen closing off eastbound lanes after a victim showed up at the hospital with a gunshot wound and reported it happening along 980, where shell casings were later found according to scanner traffic.

The extent of that persons injuries are unknown, but this scene marks the third Bay Area highway shooting in five days. An 8-year-old was left "grave condition" after being struck by a bullet while riding in an unrelated vehicle along I-580 in Oakland Friday evening. Also Friday, a woman was shot in the leg while traveling southbound along I-280 in San Francisco near Alemany Boulevard.

"What happened to government protecting the populous? That is our number one mission and are we failing right now at this point?" said Don Romero.

Romero is vice mayor of the City of Hercules and in full support of freeway cameras. Something he helped push for and get along I-80 in Hercules.

MORE: Push for more cameras on Bay Area freeways after fatal I-880 shooting of 5-year-old

In wake of the deadly I-880 freeway shooting of 5-year-old Eliyanah near Fremont, the topic of freeway cameras is back.

"It's not going to stop the shootings J.R., but it's that deterrent. In our area of West County, there hasn't been as many. I think over a 15-month period there was over a hundred shootings in this area and that's drastically dropped off," said Romero.

Those with the California State Transportation Agency say 120 cameras have already been installed in the area along Highway 4, I-80, I-580, and I-880 but are currently not being used. Forty more will be installed soon.

Officials say that following the installation of cameras in the field, Caltrans will start evaluating the camera's capabilities and begin deployment and usage in gradual phases.

Romero says this process needs to be pushed ahead immediately, in light of continued shootings.

"There's blood on individuals' hands if this is being stalled," said Romero.

MORE: Oakland considering expanding use of license plate readers as crime surges

We spent the night working with our statistics crew with the I-team, according to CHP data they obtained there were 30 Bay Area freeway shootings in the first four and a half months of 2023. Nineteen of those were in Alameda County.

The California State Transportation Agency issued this statement to us:

We are saddened by another senseless and unacceptable shooting that closely follows one that placed an 8-year-old child in critical condition. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. The CHP's Golden Gate Division Special Investigations Unit is investigating the shootings and is actively working with the city of Oakland to identify potential suspects. If you have any information, please call the CHP Investigations Tipline at (707) 917-4491.

To improve safety along our highways, Governor Gavin Newsom provided $10 million in the 2022-23 fiscal year with an additional $3 million for ongoing annual support for Caltrans to begin the process of installing 200 freeway cameras. These cameras will be equipped with the latest technology at approximately 50 locations throughout the state as part of a pilot project to improve the department's ability to operate, monitor, and respond to incidents on the state transportation system. The installation process is ongoing. These cameras will provide new and potentially life-saving capabilities, including wrong-way driver detection, rapid traffic incident detection, and the detection of near misses between vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists. Caltrans has begun installing the first set of cameras, with the rest scheduled to be in place in the Bay Area by fall 2023. Following the installation of cameras in the field, Caltrans will start evaluating the camera's capabilities and begin deployment and usage in gradual phases.

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