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Data shows fewer California freeway shootings, but some remain concerned

Freeway shootings have become a growing concern in recent years. And while data shows the crime is dropping statewide, some don’t feel that shows the reality of what’s happening in the Bay Area. 

That data, released by the California Highway Patrol Tuesday, showed a 21% drop in freeway shootings from 2022 to 2023. It also showed a 38% drop since pandemic highs in 2021. 

Despite that — with more than 270 such shootings still investigated statewide in 2023 — some say the decline is not enough. 

“I’m happy with the number, but it does not make many families feel safe at this point,” said Carl Chan, an Oakland community advocate. “Because we are talking about this dropping of 20%, but yet the numbers are still very high.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement Tuesday which read, in part: “One life lost by gun violence is one too many. California will remain relentless in our pursuit to improve public safety.”

CHP Golden Gate Division reported a 16% reduction in confirmed Bay Area freeway shootings in 2023, totalling 96. It said analyzing data and deploying extra resources in hot spots have helped shift those numbers. 

“We are not saying that’s it, that’s all we are doing,” said Officer Andrew Barclay. “We are continuing to find new resources, we are continuing to identify ways that we can be out there and keep numbers dropping.”

But numbers don’t mean much when a shooting happens. Just over a week ago, a freeway shooting on Interstate 880 in San Lorenzo sent two children to the hospital with gunshot wounds after their car was hit by gunfire. 

Last April, 5-year-old Eliyanah Crisotomo was killed as her family drove along I-880 near the Fremont-Milpitas border. Before that, in 2021, 2-year-old Jasper Wu was killed in a crossfire of a rolling gun battle along I-880. 

Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo feels that the declining numbers don’t tell the whole story. 

“I think it’s not a full presentation of the violence that is happening, not just in the City of Oakland, but on the highways here in the area,” Gallo said. “Certainly, we need to do a lot better at the state level.”

200 freeway cameras promised by Newsom in the spring of 2021 have been installed in the Bay Area, according to the California State Transportation Agency, along Highway 4 and Interstates 80, 580 and 880

But Gallo and other Oakland city leaders say they are not aware of any new cameras in city limits. 

“They are not in place, they are not located and they are not ready to be put in use,” Gallo said. “So we have to be direct with the public in terms of the information that we are providing.”

NBC Bay Area reached out to the California Transportation Agency for comment, which said that cameras had been installed in the city. 

The statement, from Assistant Deputy Secretary for Communications Marty Greenstein, read in part: “Caltrans has installed 63 cameras in Oakland and 56 elsewhere in Alameda County. Caltrans will continue to evaluate areas where camera systems can be upgraded and expanded to provide for effective management of the transportation system.”

Source: NBC Bay Area

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