State officials say cameras can limit freeway shootings

SACRAMENTO (KTVU) -- Bullets flying on Bay Area freeways and 2 Investigates has uncovered numbers that are staggering -- more than 80 shootings on local freeways in the past 16 months.

KTVU obtained a breakdown of where the shootings have taken place - and asked the state's top transportation official how he's responding to demands for cameras to be installed on the highways.

Since November 2015, eight people have been shot and killed on the freeway, and more than three dozen people have been hurt. Local leaders, victims and their families say cameras will solve shootings and act as a deterrent. 

Demarcus Doss, 24, was shot dead while driving a minivan on interstate 80 in Richmond earlier this month, an innocent victim of mistaken identity.

"He wasn't affiliated with any gangs," said Doss' mother, Cletus Henderson. "He was just driving along like you or me or someone else would do."

Doss' last act was to save his friend's life by shielding her body, as a teenage shooter in another car opened fire on them.

It turns out, the gunman was looking for someone else.

Doss died from his injuries at a hospital. 

"He was willing to come to anybody's rescue, like he did when he left here," Henderson said. "I never thought anything would happen to him."

But Doss, who had hoped to become a probation officer, is now the eighth person to die in a freeway shooting since fall 2015.

And the statistics obtained by KTVU are startling. In that same time frame, there have been more than 80 shootings across the Bay Area. The number includes fatal, non-fatal and shootings in which no one is struck by gunfire.

There have been two shootings in Solano County, 33 in Alameda, one in San Mateo, five in San Francisco and eight in Santa Clara County.

But the most shootings and deaths happened in Contra Costa County - 35 total - with the majority on Interstate 80 and Highway 4.

The CHP has said- repeatedly - that most of the car-to-car shootings are targeted incidents involving gangs and that the public shouldn't be worried.

"The CHP wants to reassure the public that they are safe as they drive the freeways and highways in our jurisdiction," said Paul Fontana, chief of the CHP's Golden Gate Division. "As I have noted, the biggest danger for most of the public on the highways is from traffic collisions." 

But that doesn't sit well with several current or former mayors of cities along Interstate 80.

"Innocent lives are being lost, and I think we want to make sure that we can minimize the danger to all our residents," said San Pablo Mayor Cecilia Valdez.

Dan Romero, a Hercules councilman and former mayor, said, "When you drive on the freeways in the Bay Area, the public is not safe."

For almost a year now, city officials and the Contra Costa County district attorney have asked the state to fund cameras to help catch freeway shooters. 

"We've had some funding committed from the county, we've had some funding committed from local police departments," said Contra Costa DA Mark Peterson. "To my knowledge, we have no funding that's set by the state or any other organization."