As rhythms of life return, Highland Park residents resist ‘normalization’ of shootings

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – The trauma of the 4th of July was already beginning to give way to the regular rhythms of life on Wednesday, just 48 hours after America’s latest mass shooting brought tragedy and infamy to another quiet American community.

At Central Avenue and Green Bay Road, commuter traffic, that fixture of the suburban fringes of every major American city, not to mention Chicago, returned to an intersection that has been closed to vehicles, and a backdrop on live television for much of the past two days.

Residents, aiming to add to the growing pile of flowers and cards across the street, suddenly found themselves dodging cars and trucks, some of which slowed enough to gawk at the spectacle.

Beyond the remaining barricades, the camp chairs, ice coolers, blankets and bikes that parade spectators left behind as they fled a barrage of wildfire are gone, carried away by a full-size U-Haul.

Only the flowers, the yellow police tape, and the persistent presence of investigators and the media, the latter now relegated to one of two designated corners, offered clues as to what had transpired.

In a country where mass shootings occur on a weekly basis, routine is already returning to Highland Park, and for some, it’s not a welcome one.

“I don’t want to normalize it, because it certainly shouldn’t be normal,” said Heidi Ross, an art teacher from nearby Northbrook who stopped by with her friend Jill Radke to pay their respects.

“Has that been a lot? Absolutely. And it’s just that I’m very frustrated. I just don’t know what it’s going to take.”

Seven people were killed and 38 wounded Monday when a lone gunman, perched on the roof of a sportswear store and disguised in women’s clothing, opened fire on parade spectators, unloading more than 80 rounds into the defenseless crowd.

Among the dead were Irina McCarthy, 35, and her husband Kevin, 37, who died while protecting their two-year-old son from danger. Locals say that the boy is now staying with his grandparents.

Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, was in the parade with relatives when he received a blow to the arm and the back of the neck. He died of his injuries at the hospital early Wednesday morning.

Also killed were Highland Park residents Katherine Goldstein, 64; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; and Stephen Strauss, 88; as well as Nicolás Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, from Mexico.

Police say several of the injured remain in critical condition and warn the death toll could still rise.

Police have charged Robert E. “Bobby” Crimo III with seven counts of first-degree murder and expect to file additional charges, authorities say. Crimo was ordered held without bail on Wednesday.

Authorities say Crimo confessed to police about the shooting and described fleeing to Madison, Wisconsin, about two hours away, where he briefly contemplated staging a second shooting before changing his mind.

Irwin Silbernik, 70, could only shrug at the evidence that life was already returning to normal, and the question of whether the community that has been his home for 36 years will ever be the same.

“That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? At this point, even if the guns were illegal, they are on the streets, they are there,” Silbernik said.

“You know, I don’t think the answer is more guns. I don’t think the answer is to get weapons to protect yourself. I don’t think the answer is to arm the teachers. But I don’t know what the answer is.”

Illinois laws are designed to keep guns out of the hands of people with drug problems, felony convictions, or who are at risk of harming themselves or others. The state’s red flag law also allows weapons to be seized under certain circumstances, but family members, roommates or the police must first petition a judge.

Authorities say police had two previous encounters with Crimo, both in 2019: the first when he was allegedly suicidal, then again later that year when a family member reported that Crimo had a collection of knives and was threatening to “kill him.” kill everyone”. “No charges or complaints were filed.

Just three months later, he applied for a gun owner’s license, Illinois State Police said. His father sponsored the application because he was 19 years old at the time.

Crimo legally purchased five firearms, including the rifle used in the attack and one found in a vehicle with him when he was arrested, as well as pistols and other firearms seized from his father’s home.

“I want parents to step up when their kids have problems and address them, not stick their heads in the sand,” Ross said.

“I don’t know what it will take for Congress to act. But we need strong gun laws. And clearly, this child fell into oblivion.”

In Richmond, Virginia, police said Wednesday that a “hero citizen” may have helped foil another July 4 massacre after overhearing a conversation about plans to shoot up a local amphitheater.

Following the lead, police arrested two men and recovered two assault rifles, a handgun and 223 rounds of ammunition.

Monday’s shooting came just six weeks after a deadly attack at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 children and two teachers, shocking but not surprising a country now completely awash with staggering firepower. .

Two weeks before Uvalde, 10 people were killed and two injured in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, at the hands of a man armed with an assault rifle who was reportedly motivated by racist hatred.

For Radke and Ross, there is only one thing left to do.

“We’re going to try to move forward, one step at a time,” Radke said. “That’s what you have to do, just for your own sanity.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 7, 2022.


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