OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Jasper Wu never had a chance to celebrate his second birthday. The toddler was killed by crossfire on Interstate-880 in Oakland last fall. His killer has so far evaded law enforcement.
Jasper’s death was one of several high-profile highway killings in the San Francisco Bay Area this past year. Hot spots for freeway violence include I-880, I-580, I-680, Highway 4, and Highway 24.
Despite intensive investigations by law enforcement, only one arrest been made in connection to any of the deadly incidents.
When a crime scene is in the middle of a freeway, piecing together evidence and identifying suspects is extremely difficult, said Michelle Rippy, a criminal justice professor at Cal State University East Bay.
“The crime scene itself is incredibly challenging for law enforcement. When you have a shooting between moving vehicles going 60 to 80 miles-per-hour, evidence may remain in the vehicles. It may be on the roadway. You’re typically going to have a crime scene that is half a mile (long), or more,” Rippy said.
Potential witnesses are fleeting. Many drivers will leave the crime scene because they are focused on driving and unaware of what just happened, Rippy said.
There is often a delay between when a crash is first reported and when law enforcement officers realize that the wreck was actually caused by a shooting, Rippy said.
“Most of the time when (911) calls are coming into law enforcement, it’s of a crash, and not a shooting,” Rippy said. “The shooting of the Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy recruit was reported initially as an accident.”
Due to significant increases in violent crime committed on state highways in recent years, the California Highway Patrol recently created a Highway Violence Task Force.
Just last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a pilot program that will strategically install advanced cameras to monitor problematic highways in Alameda County and Contra Costa County.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our highways throughout California and to holding individuals accountable for brazen acts of violence perpetrated on our freeways. Advanced CCTV cameras will serve to improve traffic safety and act as a tool to assist CHP with incredibly complex and in-depth investigations,” Newsom said.
Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern said, “They are closed circuits and they are high-definition cameras, which should be able to detect the type of vehicle, the license number, the number of occupants in the vehicle, and maybe even get a description of the occupants inside that vehicle. The other key point is that this is going to be a digital format so investigators will be able to recover that information rather quickly and start working on it rather than having to retrieve it at a later time.”
Bay Area Highway Violence Victims
Jasper Wu was just a few weeks away from turning 2 years old when tragedy struck on November 6, 2021 at 2:10 p.m.
Jasper’s mother was driving him home to Fremont when a gang-related gunfight broke out between two cars on the northbound lanes of Interstate 880, investigators said.
The Wu family was traveling in a white Lexus sedan southbound near the Filbert Street exit in Oakland when the toddler was caught in the crossfire, according to CHP.
Jasper died soon after at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.
Jasper’s loved ones held a traditional Buddhist ceremony at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland and burned some of Jasper’s toys, sending them up to heaven.
The Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Crimes Against Asians Reward Fund, and the San Francisco Police Officers Association are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Alameda County Sheriff’s cadet David Nguyen was driving home on Interstate 580 after cadet training in Dublin when he was fatally shot near the Bay Bridge toll plaza at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2022.
Nguyen was 28 years old.
Nguyen was driving a Toyota Prius toward the Bay Bridge toll plaza when he was struck by a bullet, the CHP said. His Prius crashed into a guard rail at the MacArthur Maze.
Authorities have not determined a motive on why Nguyen was shot. He was not in uniform and was driving his own personal car.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office wrote, “David was traveling home to San Francisco after academy training when he was shot and killed for no apparent reason.”
Nguyen was an eight-year veteran of the California National Guard.
The Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Association is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Nguyen’s killer.
Gene “The Dream” Ransom
UC Berkeley basketball legend Gene “The Dream” Ransom was fatally shot on Interstate 880 in Oakland near Oak Street on the night of Feb. 4, 2022.
CHP officers arrested Juan Angel Garcia, 25, of San Francisco, and Alameda County prosecutors charged him with murder. Investigators said Garcia followed Ransom’s car, pulled up parallel, and shot the 1970’s basketball star in the head. Ransom then crashed into a cement wall and died inside his vehicle.
Ransom was 65 years old.
Cal Athletics wrote in a statement, “Gene was one of the greatest players in our men’s basketball program’s history, and he will be greatly missed.”
Most Recent Bay Area Highway Shooting
Two victims died after a shooting on Interstate 580 near Seminary Avenue in Oakland at 8:20 p.m. on May 18, 2022. Three people were shot inside a black Nissan sedan seconds before it crashed.
Police initially thought that the incident was just a crash, but then discovered bullet holes on the side of the car and victims suffering from gunshot wounds.
“The vehicle had multiple occupants, some of whom were struck by gunfire and also sustained injuries in the crash,” the CHP wrote.
No arrests have been made.