CHICAGO (CBS) — Government gridlock is tying up a program meant to deter gunfire on Illinois expressways.
The year 2019 is about to close out with nearly 50 shootings on our highways. CBS 2’s Lauren Victory introduced us Thursday to a grieving mother who is angry the state does not seem to be making progress on its own solution to the problem.
At Jacqueline Ortiz’s house, holidays hurt. She smiles through the pain of year number three without her son.
“He loved family. He loved food,” Jacqueline Ortiz said of her son.
Johnathan David Ortiz was his full name, but fans knew him as John Doe. He was a rapper on the rise who had performed at the House of Blues and had the United Center booked – until Sept. 29, 2016.
That morning, Johnathan and his girlfriend were in their Jeep Liberty on their way to get an early breakfast, when someone in a passing car fired several shots on the Eisenhower Expressway near Laramie Avenue.
Johnathan was hit and did not survive. And more than three years later, no one is being held responsible for his murder.
“This is a nightmare,” said Jacqueline Ortiz. “One day I’ll wake up. I will. And I’ll have justice for John.”
Jacqueline Ortiz is hardly the only mom waiting for answers. Earlier this year, CBS 2 dug into the clearance rate for expressway shootings and discovered dismal results – arrests in less than 7 percent of cases.
Expressway surveillance video that police can rewind, freeze, and zoom in on will help.
It’s so obvious that this summer, Illinois state legislators approved spending on a new program for traffic cameras that can record. Current equipment only produces a live stream.
Lauren Victory: “Does that give you any sort of hope?”
Jacqueline Ortiz: “No, no hope, because there’s nothing being done.”
She’s right. The Expressway Camera Act goes into effect Jan. 1, but we found no plans are in place yet from the Illinois Department of Transportation or Illinois State Police.
Lauren Victory: “I asked them, ‘Do you have anything on the calendar?’ And there’s just no update.”
Jacqueline Ortiz: “They need to stop finger-pointing and they need to get action. The money’s there. The people in office need to get their work done.”
Jacqueline Ortiz is speaking out because she is thinking of others – and of future holidays.
“You’re going to have a lot more grieving moms than me if they don’t put something in place,” she said.
Unfortunately, expressway camera upgrades can’t be rushed because of state rules about how vendors are selected. The Illinois Department of Transportation would not even give us an estimate for when they are putting this project out to bid.
We added up State Police numbers to see how many times someone has pulled the trigger on our expressways since 2016. The answer is 197 shootings.