SEATTLE - Public safety is a growing concern for officers as gun violence and road rage incidents are both on the rise.
Over the years, gun violence and road rage have both increased, but it’s when you combine the two that statistics are alarming.
On average, 44 people were shot and killed or hurt in road rage shootings nationwide in 2021, which is double the pre-pandemic average, according to Everytown, a gun safety organization.
The most recent shooting occurred on April 2, when two cars were speeding down Interstate-5 in Tukwila, shooting at each other. The shooting ended with a crash into an uninvolved car. A backpack with an AK-47, AR-15 and a handgun was found after one of the shooters allegedly tried to get rid of it.
"We are thankful that no one else was struck and we're thankful that we got all three of the parties involved in custody," said Washington State Patrol spokesperson, Trooper Rick Johnson.
Three suspects in their 20s were booked into King County Jail in connection with that shooting. One of them appeared before a judge on Wednesday for what detectives believe is a gang-related shooting.
"The state is requesting bail set to $250,000," A King County prosecutor was heard saying in court. "The defendant is extremely dangerous to the community."
All three will be charged with drive-by shooting and assault.
State troopers are saying it's a call they are responding to all too often now, and it's becoming a growing public safety concern.
Reports of road rage have increased significantly, not just in King County but nationwide.
AAA describes instances of road rage as:
- Cursing, rude or obscene gestures
- Throwing objects
- Forcing a driver off the road
Johnson says these cases are escalating.
"We're up to 20 shootings this year, today. We were at 12 last year during the same timeframe," Johnson said.
The statistic only represents reported shooting along King County highways.
Last year, at least 40 roadway shootings were reported and, WSP is alarmed as we're already at that halfway point just three months into 2022.
"We don't want any shootings of course, but yes, we see this uptick and really can't explain why," Johnson said.
Everytown Research and Policy says road rage injuries and deaths have increased yearly since 2018, but 2021 was the worst year on record. The agency said on average, a person was shot, hurt or killed every 17 hours nationwide.
"We've all cut somebody off in our driving careers and the best thing I say is just give them a wave say, ‘listen, sorry,’ and don't do anything that's inciting because you don't know what the other person is capable of, unfortunately," Johnson said.
Tonight, the investigation into the latest shooting is ongoing
However, WSP says they’re out patrolling as these trends don’t seem to be slowing.
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