WSP: 57 highway shootings in 2023 just in King County

Feb 2, 2024, 3:20 PM | Updated: Feb 6, 2024, 10:50 am

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) said there’s been a dramatic rise in gunfire on our freeways. The latest shooting happened Wednesday on State Route 18 near 304th just after 3 p.m.

In the latest highway shooting, the victim told state troopers a white Dodge Charger pulled up alongside his vehicle, and the passenger in the Charger pointed a gun at him.

“He ducked. Three shots were fired,” Trooper Rick Johnson said. “One hit the left rear driver-side door and the left driver-side fender. Thankfully he was not injured.”

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Troopers spotted the suspects’ car driving into Tacoma, where a 911 caller reported seeing someone toss a gun out of the car.

Johnson said the WSP aircraft “Smokey” was called in to help track the suspects. The plane followed the suspects as they drove through Tacoma onto Interstate 5 before exiting in Fife. The suspects ended up at an apartment where the two suspects ditched the car.

“And then [they] got into a white SUV that looked to be waiting for them,” Johnson said.

The SUV took off before law enforcement on the ground could reach them. Police eventually recovered the Dodge Charger, which had been stolen.

Johnson said Wednesday’s gunfire was one of seven shootings — confirmed through damage or witnesses — on freeways in King County in January.

“Last year I believe we ended with 57 [shootings],” Johnson said. “The year before, 55.”

Johnson stated that the figure only includes confirmed shootings on freeways in King County.

If January sets a trend, Washington could even see more highway shootings than last year.

“It’s hard to say. I mean we’d love to have an exact answer on all of this, honestly,” Johnson answered when asked why there’s been such an increase. “Every shooting has its own anatomy as far as the cases facts.”

And although some of the shootings may be targeted, others are cases of road rage. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2019 data, nearly 80% of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the previous 30 days.

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Johnson said one of last year’s victims admitted that he confronted a vehicle that was tailgating him.

“He pulled over and let the vehicle pass, got in behind the vehicle, flashed his brights, pulled up next to that vehicle, game him a specific ‘hand sign’ and the driver of the other vehicle shot at his vehicle,” Johnson said. “We really, really want to stress to people not to engage with an aggressive driver because you don’t know what that other driver is capable of doing.”

The victim in Wednesday’s freeway told troopers he had no interaction with the suspects before they pulled a gun on him.

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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WSP: 57 highway shootings in 2023 just in King County