(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania State Police said this week that road rage shootings on Philadelphia interstates may increase six-fold by the end of the year, compared to 2020.
In that year, troopers responded to four incidents. In 2021, six more shootings unfolded, followed by 20 in 2022. Five months into 2023 and state police have already reported another 10 incidents.
That means, the agency said, road rage shootings are on track to outpace 2022 by another 20 percent.
In total, eight victims have been wounded and one has died, according to police records. About half of the reported cases have been cleared and the agency continues to actively investigate the rest.
“It can take weeks, months, or even years to bring these perpetrators to justice, but rest assured our investigators continue to work diligently to find those responsible,” said Pennsylvania State Police Captain Gerard McShea, Commander of Troop K, Philadelphia. “We remind the public to be vigilant behind the wheel and to report any suspicious activity.”
A recent arrest only occurred after a year-long investigation to identify a suspect: 45-year-old Saleem Armar Edney, of Philadelphia, who fired two rounds at another driver on I-476 near the Conshohocken on-ramp in Montgomery County. The victim suffered no injuries during the incident.
Law enforcement also took 25-year-old Chauncy Noel, of Sharon Hill, into custody earlier this month, less than two weeks after a bullet he fired grazed another driver on I-95 North.
Philadelphia isn’t alone in the interstate shooting spike, however. Intense road-rage moments have increased across the country.
“The number of road rage injuries and deaths involving guns has increased every year since 2018,” according to research from Everytown for Gun Safety. “In that year, at least 70 road rage shooting deaths occurred in the United States; in 2022, the number doubled to 141.”
In March, Illinois State Police warned of an “alarming trend” in Chicago expressway shootings related to road rage; they investigated nine cases within three months. Freeway shootings in Virginia rose from 47 in 2018 to 74 in 2021, with three nighttime shootings around Hampton Roads within a one-week period in 2022.
Some experts blame stress and distracted driving for the problems. Pennsylvania has seen its traffic deaths fall slightly after years of more deaths on its roads, though one report found that distracted driving deaths rose during the pandemic.
State police encourage drivers not to engage in a road rage situation and focus on reaching their destination safely.
“Should you find yourself the target of such behavior, move over and let the vehicle pass,” the PSP press release noted. “If threats are made or a firearm is displayed, dial 911 to report the incident. Information helpful to investigators includes a vehicle make, model, color, registration, and a description of the driver. The public’s assistance, not only by preventing future incidents but also providing investigative information on current cases, is appreciated.”
Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.