How Often Are Freeway Shootings Happening in the Bay Area?

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A deadly shooting on April 8, 2023 is the latest in what appears to be a troubling uptick in gun violence on Bay Area highways.

Five-year-old Eliyanah Crisostomo was shot and killed on Interstate 880 near the Fremont-Milpitas border Saturday evening. The victim's parents were inside the vehicle at the time of the shooting but were uninjured, the California Highway Patrol said. No arrests have been made and no suspects were immediately identified.

An NBC Bay Area analysis of California Highway Patrol data found that reports of highway shootings in the Bay Area doubled during a three-year period, from 82 incidents in 2019 to 178 in 2021. There were 384 total reports across nine Bay Area counties during that span. 

There were 15 fatal shootings from 2019-2021. Injuries were reported in 30% of the cases.

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano set the bar for both the total number of reports and the rate of incidents adjusted for population. Contra Costa saw the biggest increase, from eight reports in 2019 to 49 in 2021.

But not all counties appeared to be impacted equally. Napa was the only county with zero reports of shootings from 2019-2021. Sonoma and Marin each had three reports total from 2019-2021.

The portion of Interstate 880 where Crisostomo was shot and killed near the Fremont-Milpitas border had one shooting each year from 2019-2021. In two of those cases, an injury was reported.

Bay Area Highway Shootings, 2019-2021

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit mapped 378 reported highway shootings that occurred between 2019 and 2021. Larger points indicate reports of death or injury. Approximate shooting locations are based on data from the California Highway Patrol.

Note: Six additional reports were not mapped due to unclear location descriptions
Source: California Highway Patrol
Credit: Sean Myers/NBC Bay Area

Road Rage and Gang Activity

The rise in shootings can be attributed to an increase in gang activity and road rage, according to the CHP. The agency said it is rare for innocent people to be injured or killed.

The tragic death of Crisostomo came 17 months after the highway shooting death of 2-year-old Jasper Wu on Interstate 880 in Oakland. Three suspects were eventually arrested and charged with murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon. Two of the suspects were also charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and criminal street gang conspiracy.

In nearly 90% of cases from 2019-2021, no arrest was made.

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