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Drive-by shooting

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A drive-by shooting is a type of assault that usually involves the perpetrator(s) firing a weapon from within a motor vehicle and then fleeing.[1] Drive-by shootings allow the perpetrators to quickly strike their targets and flee the scene before law enforcement is able to respond. A drive-by shooting's prerequisites include access to a vehicle and a gun. The protection, anonymity, sense of power, and ease of escape provided by the getaway vehicle lead some perpetrators to feel safe expressing their hostility toward others.[2]

Historical conception[edit]

Nestor Makhno (pictured in 1921) is attributed with inventing the tactics of drive-by shooting using horses, long before motor vehicles became common.

The invention of the drive-by shooting is attributed to Nestor Makhno,[3][4][5][6][7][8] commander of the Revolutionary Insurgent Army of Ukraine at the beginning of the 20th century. He combined horse and carriage with a machine gun in order to quickly assault targets then flee before they could properly react. It was called a Tachanka.

Motor vehicles offer similar concealment for transport of weapons to crime scenes in situations like the 2015 San Bernardino attack, and can simultaneously serve as getaway vehicles. Using a vehicle allows the shooter to approach the intended target without being noticed and then to speed away before anyone reacts. Besides gang-related attacks, drive-by shootings may result from road rage or personal disputes between neighbors, acquaintances, or strangers unrelated to gang membership.[2]

United States[edit]

There is no national data on the volume of drive-by shootings. National statistical databases such as the Uniform Crime Reports record the shooting outcome rather than the method. Non-gang-related drive-by shootings are not well researched, but journalistic accounts and police reports suggest that these constitute a significant proportion of the drive-by shootings to which police respond. Drive-by shootings that occur as an extreme form of road rage appear to be rather unpredictable in terms of the times and locations, but often occur in reaction to seemingly trivial events, although the underlying motivation usually appears to be a series of unrelated stressors in the perpetrator's life. A drive-by shooting's prerequisites include access to a vehicle and a gun. Recent legislation has focused on transfer of guns rather than vehicles, so those who carry out drive-by shootings may use their own vehicle or one that has been borrowed, rented, or stolen.[2]

The primary motivations for a gang-involved drive-by include intimidation, terrorisation, and assassination of rival street gang members.[9] Such shootings are associated with gang violence in urban areas of the United States but also occur in other contexts. The tactic is also called simply a "drive-by".[10]


Motorcycle ride-by killings were a common form of murder used by drug lord Griselda Blanco during her years controlling the Miami cocaine trade routes in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[11] Blanco herself died by this method after having been shot twice in the head by a motorcyclist in a drive-by shooting in Medellín, Colombia.[12][13][14] Drive-by shootings are also included in the Ku Klux Klan's modus operandi.[15][16]

Chicago Prohibition-era gangster and North Side Gang boss Bugs Moran was considered a "pioneer" of the drive-by shooting, with the Tommy gun being the weapon of choice. The notoriously vicious gang performed multiple shootings against their rivals, including the South Side gang led by Al Capone and the Genna brothers. Other Irish American gangs, such as the Saltis-McErlane Gang, the Sheldon Gang, and the Southside O'Donnell's, also executed drive-bys on one another in the Chicago area. Al Capone also had a Cadillac painted in Chicago police colors (police lights included) with armored rear windshield and a small hatch to fire machine guns with the car moving.

During the Second Philadelphia Mafia War, two warring factions fought for control of the family; one led by former alleged boss, John Stanfa; and the "Young Turks" led by up-and-coming gangster Joey Merlino. On 5 August 1993, Merlino survived a drive-by shooting assassination attempt by two Stanfa gunmen, taking four bullets in the leg and buttocks, while his friend and associate Michael Ciancaglini was shot in the chest and killed.[17] On 31 August 1993, a drive by shooting was performed on Stanfa and his son while they were driving on the Schuylkill Expressway. Stanfa escaped uninjured and his son survived being shot in the jaw.

In 1992, the Mexican Mafia prison gang announced an edict prohibiting Sureno gangs from committing drive-by shootings, in order to avoid police crackdowns throughout neighborhoods in southern California. Those who broke the edict were to be greenlighted for assault or even death in the California prison system.[18]

Numerous hip hop artists have been targeted in drive-bys;[19] prominent rappers who were killed in such incidents include Tupac Shakur,[20] The Notorious B.I.G.,[21] Big L, and Mac Dre.[22] Other rappers, such as Obie Trice[23] and 50 Cent have survived being assaulted in drive-by shootings.

In 2015, Jorja Leap, an UCLA anthropologist studying gang culture, pointed out how drive-by shooting tactics are being replaced by the "walk-up shooting" method, because murders have become more targeted and while driving, there is low accuracy in aiming.[24]


In Italy, the circulation of firearms is low compared to that in the United States, and just over a million civilians own a firearm license,[25] so face-to-face shooting or threats with firearms are rare. Drive-by shootings, on the other hand, are common, especially in professional criminal contexts, as the statistical incidence says that almost all assaults with firearms are carried out from cars, motorcycles, or scooters.[citation needed] These kinds of vehicles are used since they provide better mobility in the narrow city districts. From the 1970s into the 21st century, Cosa Nostra and the Camorra have both been known to perform drive-by shootings during clan or mafia wars, or to assassinate targets. One notable example of such, is Carabiniere general Carlo Alberto dalla Chiesa, who was killed with an Ak 47 in a drive by shooting in September 1982 in Palermo.[26]

One of the most striking episodes of a drive-by shooting in Italy was the Macerata shooting, conducted against six Africans by a far-right extremist, Luca Traini, using an Alfa Romeo 147. However, the attack caused no deaths.[27]

Syrian and Iraqi civil wars[edit]

In the first decade of the 21st century, drive-by shootings were also used for assassinations by militants in Iraq,[28] including that of Waldemar Milewicz[29] and Hatem Kamil,[30] and in Syria.[31][32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hutson, H. Range; Anglin, Deirdre; Pratts, Michael J. Jr. (3 February 1994). "Adolescents and Children Injured or Killed in Drive-By Shootings in Los Angeles". New England Journal of Medicine. 330 (5): 324–327. doi:10.1056/NEJM199402033300506. PMID 8277953.
  2. ^ a b c Dedel, Kelly (January 2007). "The Problem of Drive-By Shootings". Arizona State University. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  3. ^ William Henry Chamberlin, Russia's Iron Age, Ayer Publishing, 1970, p201; V. Rapoport, Y. Alekseev, V. G. Treml (translated by B. Adams)
  4. ^ High Treason: Essays on the History of the Red Army, 1918–1938, Duke University Press, 1985, p68
  5. ^ Michael Malet, Nestor Makhno in the Russian Civil War, Macmillan, 1982, p85
  6. ^ Steve Zaloga, Leland S. Ness, Red Army Handbook, 1939–45, Sutton, 1998, p105
  7. ^ Leon Trotsky, How the Revolution Armed: The Military Writings and Speeches of Leon Trotsky, New Park Publications, 1981, p 295
  8. ^ Edward R. Kantowicz, The Rage of Nations: The World In The Twentieth Century, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999, p173
  9. ^ Hutson, H. Range; Anglin, Deirdre; Kyriacou, Demetrios N. (4 October 1995). "The Epidemic of Gang-Related Homicides in Los Angeles County From 1979 Through 1994". Journal of the American Medical Association. 274 (13): 1031–6. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530130037025. PMID 7563453.
  10. ^ "3-year-old boy killed in drive-by shooting identified". Cleveland, Ohio: WKYC-TV. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  11. ^ Corben, Billy (4 September 2012). "Griselda Blanco: So Long and Thanks for All the Cocaine". Vice. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  12. ^ Luscombe, Richard (4 September 2012). "'Godmother of cocaine' shot dead in Colombia". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  13. ^ Robles, Frances & Bargent, James (5 September 2012). "The life and death of 'cocaine godmother' Griselda Blanco". The Miami Herald.
  14. ^ Luscombe, Richard (4 September 2012). "'Godmother of cocaine' shot dead in Colombia". The Guardian. Griselda Blanco, who remained under suspicion for the deaths of all three of her husbands
  15. ^ Fontaine, Smokey (2009). "GOOD NEWS: Victim Of KKK and Drive-By Shooting Opens Successful Restaurant". NewsOne. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  16. ^ Hamilton, Matt (28 February 2016). "Mother and son are killed in a drive-by shooting outside a Carson home". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ "Stories of Hits That Missed Are a Smash in Court". Deseret News. 26 November 1995.
  18. ^ "Mexican Mafia Tells Gangs to Halt Drive-Bys". Retrieved 2 July 2024.
  19. ^ Coleman, C. Vernon II (1 February 2013). "They Shootin': 10 Rappers That Were Targeted in Drive-By Shootings". HipHopWired. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  20. ^ Dominguez, Robert (14 September 1996). "Tupac Shakur dies days after drive-by shooting in 1996". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 11 December 2015. Rapper Tupac Shakur died yesterday from wounds suffered in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting, becoming a casualty of the kind of bullet-sprayed urban violence captured in his lyrics.
  21. ^ Millner, Denene (10 March 1997). "Biggie Smalls is killed in a drive-by shooting in 1997". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  22. ^ "Rapper Mac Dre Killed in Kansas City". Billboard. 2 November 2004. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  23. ^ "Rapper Obie Trice Shot In Detroit". Billboard. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  24. ^ "A shift in gang tactics means drive-bys are giving way to walk-ups, observers say". Los Angeles Times. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  25. ^ "Quante armi ci sono in Italia?" [How many firearms are there in Italy?]. La Stampa (in Italian). 6 February 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  26. ^ Ambrose, Tom (2008). The Nature of Despotism. New Holland. ISBN 978-1-84773-070-1.
  27. ^ "Macerata, spari da auto in corsa, sei feriti: sono tutti di colore. Una vendetta per Pamela: bloccato un uomo avvolto nel tricolore" [Macerata, drive-by shooting, six wounded: all black people. Revenge for Pamela: a man wrapped in the Italian flag arrested]. Il Messaggero (in Italian). 3 February 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  28. ^ "ISIS Claims Drive-by Shooting that Killed 8 in Iraq | Asharq AL-awsat".
  29. ^ "Top Baghdad official shot dead: Aftermath of attack on Baghdad deputy governor: Attackers rammed the deputy governor's car and shot him dead". BBC News. 7 May 2004. Retrieved 10 August 2012. Gunmen have assassinated the deputy governor of Baghdad and wounded two of his bodyguards, Iraqi officials say
  30. ^ "Polish TV crew attacked in Iraq: Waldemar Milewicz was a well-known war correspondent". BBC News. 1 November 2004. Retrieved 10 August 2012. Gunmen in Iraq have killed a leading Polish journalist and his picture editor in a drive-by shooting
  31. ^ "ISIS carries out drive-by shooting against rebels in Idlib (photos)". 13 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Brutal Drive By Shooting Of Syrian Arab Army Troops Manning Checkpoint". Retrieved 2 July 2024.

External links[edit]

Media related to Drive-by shootings at Wikimedia Commons