Highway shootings in some states have surged in recent years, but tracking down the suspects involved has been difficult, reports NBC News.
California, Michigan and Illinois had the biggest surge in highway shootings, according to data collected by NBC.
So far this year, 61 highway shootings have been reported in Illinois. In Michigan, 67 highway shootings happened last year. In California, 500 were reported in the first 11 months of 2021 compared to 210 total in 2019.
Shootings on Washington freeways have also increased, with 19 reported through April compared to 12 total last year.
An analysis by ABC News published in mid-May showed a rise in gun violence on interstate highways across the country during the pandemic. Highway shootings rose from 540 incidents in 2019 to 846 in 2021, an increase of 57%, according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive.
At least 149 shootings occurred on or near interstate highways in the first three months of this year, according to the data.
The NBC report said low arrest rates resulted from the highway shootings. In California, just 8% of suspects were taken into custody in connection with confirmed shootings, while police arrested just 5% of suspects in Illinois.
In Michigan, the rate was 32%.
The NBC report also noted a surge of highway shootings during the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of stressors with the pandemic,” said Ryan Stonebraker, the chief of California Highway Patrol’s Protective Services Division. “There are a lot of people that are unhinged, they’re upset, or they’re very concerned about safety.”
He added: “Although these statistics are alarming, these are tragic, it’s still rare considering the amount of people we have on some of the busiest freeways in the world.”
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