by Michael Tarm, Kathleen Foodie and Roger Schneider
HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. ( Associated Press) — A gunman opened fire at an Independence Day parade on a rooftop in suburban Chicago on Monday, killing at least six people, injuring at least 30 and killing hundreds of marchers, parents and others. The children were sent on bicycles. Police said that they are running in terror. The suspect remained uncovered hours later as officers searched the area.
Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill, the incident commander at the scene, urged people to seek shelter as officers searched for the suspect. He said Monday afternoon that a “very active anticipation effort” was underway.
The July 4th shooting was the latest to shatter the customs of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time, bloodshed ensued as the nation tried to find a reason to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.
Mayor Nancy Rottering said the violence had “shaken us to the core of us,” adding, “In the day when we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we are instead mourning the tragic loss of life and battling the terror that was brought upon us.”
The shooting took place at a location on the parade route, where many residents had seen key viewing points early in the day for the annual festival. Dozens of bullets sent hundreds of people on the parade – some apparently covered in blood – fled. They left a trail of abandoned objects that depict everyday life suddenly, violently interrupted: a half-eaten bag of potato chips; A box of chocolate cookies fell on the grass; A child’s Chicago Cubs hat.
“There is no safe place,” said 73-year-old Barbara Hurt, a Highland Park resident, who stayed away from the parade for fear of mass shootings but later left her home.
Christopher Cowelly, spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, said at a news conference that “many of the deceased victims” died on the spot and one was taken to hospital and died there. Police have not released details about the victims or the injured.
Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said the five people killed in the parade were adults and did not know about the sixth victim, who was taken to hospital and died there.
Mexico’s director of North American affairs, Roberto Velasco, said on Twitter Monday that a Mexican national was killed and two other Mexicans were injured in Highland Park.
Dr Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness for Northshore University Health Center, said 26 patients came to Highland Park Hospital after the attack and all had bullet wounds. Their ages ranged from 8 to 85, and Temple estimated that four or five patients were children.
He said 19 of them were treated and discharged. Others were transferred to other hospitals, while two patients remained at Highland Park Hospital in stable condition.
Officials said the shooter opened fire around 10:15 a.m. when the parade was almost three-quarters up.
Coveli said the gunman apparently used a “high-powered rifle” to shoot him from a spot on top of a commercial building, where it was “very difficult to see.” He said that the rifle has been recovered from the spot. Police also found a ladder attached to the building.
“Very random, very intentional and very sad day,” Covelli said.
President Joe Biden said on Monday that he and First Lady Jill Biden were “shocked by the senseless gun violence that has again hurt an American community this Independence Day.” He said he has “enhanced federal law enforcement to assist in the immediate search for the shooter, who remains at large at this time.”
Agency spokeswoman April Langwell said agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were immediately locating the rifle. Federal agents use such marks to identify when, where, and for whom the gun was last sold.
Biden signed the most comprehensive gun violence bill passed by Congress in decades, an agreement that simultaneously shows both progress and deep-seated partisan divisions on a long-standing issue.
Police believe there was only one shooter but warned that he should still be considered armed and dangerous. Several nearby cities canceled events including parades and fireworks, some of them noting that the Highland Park shooter was still at large. Evanston, Deerfield, Skokie, Waukegan and Glencoe canceled events. The Chicago White Sox also announced on Twitter that a planned post-game fireworks show has been canceled due to shooting.
“You have a tragic mass act of violence that was randomized here today at a community event where people gathered to celebrate, and the perpetrator has yet to be arrested,” said Kovelli, a spokesman for the Crime Task Force. “So could it happen again? We don’t know what his intentions are at the moment, so of course we’re not sure about that.”
More than 100 law enforcement officers were called to the parade site or sent to search for the suspected shooter.
Hours after the shooting, law enforcement officers searched an office building where the shooting took place. Nearby, armed FBI agents also disguised themselves as taking a family with two little girls to Central Avenue. The children clearly looked frightened, even as their mother tried to reassure them that the agents leading and guarding them would protect them.
“Don’t worry, you’re safe now,” he told them. “These people will protect you.”
Ominous signs of a joyous event suddenly turned into panic on both sides of Central Avenue where the shooting took place. Dozens of baby strollers – some American flags, abandoned children’s bikes and a helmet with images of Cinderella – were left behind. Blankets, lawn chairs, coffee and water bottles were broken as people fled.
Highland Park is an intimate community of about 30,000 people located on the shores of Lake Michigan north of Chicago, with mansions and sprawling lakeside estates that have long made the wealthy and sometimes famous, including NBA legend Michael Jordan. including those who lived here. City for years when he played for the Chicago Bulls. John Hughes filmed parts of several films in the city, including “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Sixteen Candles” and “Strange Science”.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement: “There are no words for the kind of monster that waits and sets fire to hordes of families with children who are holidaying with their community.”
Gina Troyani and her son were lined up with their daycare class ready to walk the parade route when she heard a loud sound she believed to be fireworks—until she told people about a shooter. Didn’t hear screaming. In the video Troyani shot on his phone, some children were startled by the loud sound, and they scrambled on the side of the road as sirens sounded nearby.
“We just start running in the opposite direction,” she told the Associated Press.
Her 5-year-old son was riding his bike adorned with red and blue curved ribbons. He and the other kids in the group had small American flags. The city said on its website that the festivities were to include a children’s bike and pet parade.
Troyani said he pushed his son’s bike, running through the neighborhood to get back to his car.
“It was just like chaos,” she said. “There were people who were separated from their families, looking for them. Others simply dropped their wagons, grabbed their children and started running. ,
Highland Park resident Debbie Glickman said she was on a parade float with colleagues and the group was preparing to head to the main street when she saw people running through the area.
“People started saying: ‘There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter, there’s a shooter,'” Glickman told the Associated Press. “So we just ran. We just ran. It’s like massive chaos out there.”
He didn’t hear any noise or see anyone who was injured.
“I’m so nervous,” she said. “It’s just so sad.”
Foodie contributed from Chicago. Associated Press writers Mike Balsamo in New York, David Koenig in Dallas, Jeff Martin in Woodstock, Georgia and Fabiola Sanchez in Monterey, Mexico contributed reporting.