By Velena Jones

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s been a deadly year on California’s freeways with dozens of shootings targeting drivers.

In the Greater Sacramento region, at least four people have died in freeway shootings in 2020. The California Highway Patrol said it’s the worst they’ve seen in years.

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Dispatch audio captures the moment CHP was called to a freeway shooting on I-5 in Natomas in November: “BOLO for shots fired…for Northbound 5..north of the 80 connect.”

It was just one of the dozens of shootings officers responded to this year.

“We are using every resource we can try to catch these parties,” CHP Officer Mike Harris said.

CHP Valley Division responded to 36 shootings on freeways from January to the beginning of December, that’s up 13 shootings compared to the same time period last year. The shootings have peppered roadways from Olivehurst to the north to Tracy in the south. At least four of those shootings have been fatal.

One of those bullets shattered Taylor Dooms’ windshield while she was driving down Interstate 80 with her newborn in the back seat. Dooms believes she was targeted after a case of mistaken identity.

“It has been really hard because I could’ve been shot. They aimed straight for the driver,” Dooms said. “It’s sad because people are so reckless these days and so quick to just pull the trigger.”

Officer Harris said in most cases, the gunfire is targeted.

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“These are not random attacks. They are not shooting people at random on the freeway,” Harris said. “Occasionally, there are instances where innocent bystanders or victims are part of this and that is a big part of why we are so actively out there trying to be proactive.”

Julia Schleimer analyzes violence data from around the nation for UC Davis.

“The magnitude of the stressors and the changes in disruptions in daily life are unprecedented. I think it really is this confluence of several risk factors coming together at the same time,” Schleimer said.

She believes higher gun sales and overall social and economic impacts this year are driving the spike in shootings.

Out of the dozens of incidents, only a handful of people have been arrested.

“It’s tough because everything is moving and our crime scene is now massive,” Harris said. “The bottom line is we want to detour it, we want to make sure that the violent behavior stops.”

Harris believes despite this year’s increase, the freeways a generally safe to drive on. He says CHP uses Caltrans and other street cameras to gather information.

CHP says they are working with federal and state partners to help stop freeway shootings, this includes showing more of a presence on local freeways.

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Velena Jones