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How you can protect yourself as VSP warns of increased interstate shootings

Virginia State Police is sending out a warning after 18 interstate shootings left six people hurt since the beginning of the year.

NORFOLK, Va. — A rash of interstate shootings here in Hampton Roads has some drivers concerned.

Virginia State Police are sending out a warning after 18 interstate shootings left six people hurt since the beginning of the year.

They said in a statement, "Residents should be alarmed."

Seven of those 18 shootings happened in Hampton, five in Norfolk, two each in Chesapeake and Portsmouth, and one each in Newport News and Virginia Beach.

RELATED: 'Residents should be alarmed:' Virginia State Police address 18 interstate shootings in Hampton Roads this year

Sandra Sherman said this concerns her knowing her family is on the road.

"It makes me angry. Period," she said. "With my granddaughters and great-granddaughters in the area, I fear for their safety now."

Ian Walsh said it’s ridiculous that this is something drivers now have to worry about.

"People that are on the road already have enough to deal with. For tempers to be high and for people to have such easy access to firearms isn’t making it any better," he said.

Ryan Adcock with AAA Tidewater said he’s heard similar worries from their senior defensive driving class.

"That they just refuse to travel on the interstate at all, period, anymore."

VSP investigated 35 interstate shootings in the Hampton Roads area in 2022 and 39 the year before.

All that being said, Adcock said there are a few things you can do if you’re on the roads to avoid getting caught up in road rage.

He said you need to stay vigilant.

"Being aware of not only yourself but being aware of how other people are acting."

AAA advises drivers to stay away from drivers who are speeding, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, or blocking other drivers.

Adcock said to avoid eye contact with angry drivers and keep calm. Don’t respond to aggression with more aggression.

While troopers say most of these shootings are not random, it’s still possible for other drivers to become a victim.

Adcock said to keep space between you and a potentially violent driver.

"Either maneuver around them, just escape from them in general, and then, if necessary, you can call 911. Obviously, call the police. Just remember you can only control your own behavior, not other people’s. You can just choose how to react to it," he said.

Troopers said they’ve ramped up their investigative efforts to make arrests in every case and prevent more of these shootings from happening. However, they also need the public’s help. If you know anything about any interstate shooting, call police.

"We know there are people out there who witnessed the disagreement that sparked an eventual shooting and/or know the suspects and the victims involved in these shootings. We need those people to come forward," said Captain Timothy Rebeil, the commander of the VSP Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Chesapeake Field Office. 

"Staying quiet only empowers these dangerous criminals, and further victimizes and endangers the safety of our communities and highways," he said.  

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