HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. –
A shooter fired at an Independence Day parade from a rooftop in suburban Chicago, spraying the crowd with shots that were initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of terrified revelers of all ages fled in terror. At least six people died and at least 30 were injured.
An hour-long manhunt during which residents sheltered in businesses or received police escorts home ended with a traffic stop and a brief pursuit Monday night, when authorities detained a man they described as a person of interest. They did not identify a motive for the attack in Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on Chicago’s north shore.
The July 4 shooting was just the latest to break the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores, and now community parades have become killing fields in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find reasons to celebrate its founding and the ties that still hold it together.
“It definitely hits a lot harder when it’s not only your hometown, but it’s right in front of you,” resident Ron Tuazon said as he and a friend returned to the parade route Monday night to retrieve chairs, blankets and a children’s bicycle that he and his family abandoned when the shooting began.
“It’s commonplace now,” Tuazon said. “We don’t blink anymore. Until the laws change, it will be more of the same.”
The shooting occurred at a location on the parade route where many residents had staked out vantage points earlier in the day for the annual celebration.
Among them was the family of Nicolás Toledo, who was in his 70s and visiting from Mexico when he was shot. He died at the scene, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Also dead was Jacki Sundheim, a longtime congregation member and “beloved” staff member of nearby North Shore Congregation Israel, which announced her death on her website.
Dozens of bullets fired sent hundreds of parade goers, some visibly bloodied, to flee. They left a trail of abandoned items that showed daily life suddenly and violently interrupted: a box of chocolate chip cookies spilled on the lawn; a Chicago Cubs kid’s cap; baby strollers, some with American flags, and children’s bicycles.
“There is no safe place,” said Barbara Harte, 73, of Highland Park, who had stayed away from the parade fearing a mass shooting but then ventured out of her home.
Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said a police officer stopped Robert E. Crimo III about 5 miles north of the scene of the shooting, several hours after police released the photo of the man and a picture of his silver Honda Fit, warning the public that he was probably armed and dangerous. Authorities initially said he was 22, but an FBI bulletin and Crimo’s social media said he was 21.
Police declined to immediately identify Crimo as a suspect, but said identifying him as a person of interest, sharing his name and other information publicly was a serious step.
Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli told a news conference that “several of the deceased victims” died at the scene and one was taken to a hospital and died there.
Police have not released details about the victims, but Toledo’s granddaughter told the Sun-Times that Toledo had spent most of her life in Morelos, Mexico. Xochil Toledo said she remembers looking at her grandfather when a band passed them playing music.
“I was so happy,” he said. “Happy to live in the moment.”
Xochil Toledo said that her father tried to protect her grandfather and was shot in the arm; His boyfriend was also shot in the back and someone took him to a nearby hospital because they weren’t sure there would be enough ambulances for all the victims.
Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director of North American affairs, said on Twitter that two Mexicans were also injured.
Sundheim had spent decades on the staff of North Shore Congregation Israel, at first teaching in the congregation’s preschool and later serving as Events and B’nei Mitzvah Coordinator, “all of this with tireless dedication,” the congregation said in its statement announcing his death. .
“Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all,” the statement said.
Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said all five people killed in the parade were adults, but she had no information on the sixth victim.
The NorthShore University Health Center received 26 patients after the attack. All but one had gunshot wounds, said Dr. Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness. Their ages ranged from 8 to 85, and Temple estimated that four or five were children.
“It is devastating that a celebration of America has been shattered by our unique American plague,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker told a news conference.
“While we celebrate the 4th of July only once a year, mass shootings have become a weekly, yes, weekly American tradition.”
Since January, there have been 15 shootings that have killed four or more people, including the Highland Park shooting, according to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Mass Murder Database.
The shooter opened fire around 10:15 am, when the parade was three-quarters full, authorities said.
Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill, the scene’s incident commander, said the gunman apparently used a “high-powered rifle” to shoot from a spot high up in a commercial building where he was ” very hard to watch.” He said the rifle was recovered at the scene. Police also found a ladder attached to the building.
President Joe Biden said Monday that he and First Lady Jill Biden were “shocked by the senseless gun violence that has once again caused the American community pain this Independence Day.”
In recent days, Biden signed the most far-reaching gun violence bill passed by Congress in decades, a compromise that showed both progress on a long-intractable issue and the deep-seated partisan divide that persists.
Crimo, who goes by Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting dozens of videos and songs, some sinister and violent, to social media.
In an animated video taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in the dark” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on the ground, and another figure with hands up in the distance.
In another video, Crimo appears in a classroom wearing a black bicycle helmet. He says, “Everything has led to this. Nothing can stop me, not even myself.”
Crimo’s father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Highland Park in 2019, calling himself “a person for the people.”
Highland Park is a tight-knit community on the shores of Lake Michigan, with mansions and sprawling lakeside estates that have long attracted the rich and sometimes famous, including NBA legend Michael Jordan, who lived in town for years when he played for the Chicago team. bulls John Hughes filmed parts of several movies in the city, including “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Sixteen Candles,” and “Weird Science.”
Gina Troiani and her son were lined up with her kindergarten class ready to walk down the parade route when she heard a loud sound that she thought was fireworks, until she heard people yelling about a shooter.
“We started running in the opposite direction,” he told The Associated Press.
Troiani said she pushed her 5-year-old son’s bike, running through the neighborhood to get back to her car.
“It was kind of chaotic,” he said. “There were people who got separated from their families, looking for them. Others just left their cars, grabbed their children and started running.”
Foody contributed from Chicago. Associated Press writers Mike Balsamo in New York, David Koenig in Dallas, Jeff Martin in Woodstock, Georgia, Fabiola Sanchez in Monterrey, Mexico, Jim Mustian in New Orleans, Bernard Condon in New York, and Martha Irvine and Mike Householder in Highland Park contributed reports