- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Five Northern California mayors called on the governor Thursday to install surveillance cameras on freeways that run through their cities amid a spate of deadly shootings that they say have left their communities “under siege.”

Four people have died and a dozen others have been injured in 28 shootings on highways on the east side of San Francisco Bay since November, the California Highway Patrol said. The latest occurred Tuesday in the city of Hercules when a driver was shot in the leg.

Most of the shootings are gang-related, with gunmen following their targets onto freeways where surveillance is lacking and a getaway is easy, authorities say.

The mayors of Hercules, Richmond, San Pablo, Pinole and El Cerrito signed a letter addressed to Gov. Jerry Brown that says the situation has reached “crisis proportions.” The frequency of the shootings and number of places they occur have scared drivers and snarled traffic.

The mayors want surveillance cameras at exits and on-ramps along a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 80 that runs through their cities. They hope the cameras will help capture shooters and serve as a deterrent after 15 motorists have been shot along that section of highway.

CHP and transportation officials “have been in close communication with the community on the issue and will be working on arranging a meeting with city officials involved to further discuss the situation,” California State Transportation Agency deputy secretary Melissa Figueroa said.

Besides I-80, there have been numerous other shootings along nearby freeways, including five on Highway 4, four on Interstate 580 and four on two others, the CHP said.

“Evidence suggests these shootings appear to be gang-related, with different gangs involved,” the CHP said in a statement Wednesday. “Gang shootings are extremely difficult to investigate, as victims and witnesses are often uncooperative with law enforcement investigators.”

The CHP says it is stepping up patrols of the area and has created a special task force of officers from local law enforcement agencies and the FBI.

“If these gangsters know there are cameras, it will be a deterrent,” Hercules Mayor Dan Romero said.

One city has moved to put up its own surveillance cameras. Pittsburg, 25 miles east of the I-80 trouble spot, recently announced it would spend $100,000 to install cameras along a 4-mile stretch of Highway 4 where two fatal shootings occurred this year, including the death of a mother of four children.

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