Three suspects in a fatal shooting on Interstate 80 last week made their first court appearance Tuesday, facing murder charges, and a family member says the shooters targeted an innocent bystander.
The shooting, one of roughly 80 shootings that have occurred in less than a year and a half on Bay Area highways, is believed to be gang related, just as many of the previous shootings.
The California Highway Patrol said that while oftentimes the freeway shootings can be difficult to solve, the latest incident included help from witnesses, and the three suspects were arrested within 30 minutes of the shooting.
On Tuesday, the stepfather of the driver killed in the shooting spoke out. He said victim Demarcus Doss and a friend were innocent bystanders, mistaken for those with gang ties.
"I want to see justice," said Kellis Love, who added that Doss had nothing to do with the violence. "He was at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Doss, a college student, was driving with his female friend last Thursday along Interstate 80 in Richmond when authorities say 24-year-old Elliot Johnson, along with two 17-year-old boys, opened fire.
Love said Doss was trying to shield the woman from the gunfire and got hit multiple times. He died Saturday at the hospital.
"It's senseless," Love said. "Someone has to stand up."
CHP Chief Paul Fontana, who heads the Golden Gate division, said there have been about 80 freeway shootings in less than a year and half throughout the Bay Area.
"It’s unacceptable that we have that level of violence on our freeways, and we are working night and day," Fontana said. "Most of them are gang related."
Fontana said a major key to solving the crimes comes down to good witnesses. On Thursday, an off-duty officer happened to be on the road when the shooting occurred.
"It was within I believe a half an hour when people were in custody," he said.
Love said because people stood up and said something, maybe it will deter future shootings.
"That’s what it's going to take," he said. "For people to stand up and say not in our back yard."
The CHP also is working with police chiefs from several East Bay cities and with the FBI to discuss other ways authorities are working to stop the violence. A joint news conference with those agencies is scheduled for Friday.