A rooftop gunman opened fire Monday during an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago, killing at least six people, injuring at least 30 and sending hundreds of marchers, parents with strollers and children on bicycles flee in terror, police said.
Authorities said a man named as a person of interest in the shooting was taken into custody Monday night after an hour-long manhunt in and around Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 residents on Chicago’s North Shore.
The Fourth of July shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find a reason to celebrate its founding and the ties that still hold it together.
“It certainly hits a lot harder when it’s not just 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 recuperate. chairs, blankets and a child’s bicycle that he and his family abandoned when the shooting began.
“It’s commonplace now,” Tuazon said of what he called another American atrocity. “We don’t blink anymore. Until the laws change, it will be more or less the same.
The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had staked out vantage points early in the day for the annual celebration. Dozens of bullets fired scared hundreds of parade spectators – some visibly bloodied. They left a trail of abandoned objects that showed daily life suddenly, violently disrupted: a bag of half-eaten crisps; a box of chocolate biscuits spilled on the grass; a child’s Chicago Cubs cap.
“There is no safe place,” said Barbara Harte, 73, a resident of Highland Park, who had stayed away from the parade for fear of a mass shooting, but then walked away. ventured out of her home.
Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said an officer arrested Robert E. Crimo III about five miles north of the scene of the shooting, several hours after police released the photo of the man and an image of his silver Honda Fit, and warned the public that he was probably armed and dangerous. Authorities initially said he was 22, but an FBI bulletin and Crimo social media said he was 21.
Police declined to immediately identify Crimo as a suspect, but said identifying him as a person of interest, publicly sharing his name and other information was a serious step.
Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli told a news conference that “several of the deceased victims” died at the scene and one was taken to the scene. hospital and died there. Police have not released details of the casualties or injuries.
Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said all five people killed in the parade were adults, but had no information about the sixth victim who was taken to hospital and died there. One of those killed was a Mexican national, Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director of North American affairs, said on Twitter Monday. He said two other Mexicans were injured.
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 patients were children.
Temple said 19 of them were treated and discharged. Others were transferred to other hospitals, while two patients, in stable condition, remained at Highland Park Hospital.
“It is devastating that a celebration of America has been torn apart by our uniquely American plague,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said at a press conference.
“I’m furious because it doesn’t have to be this way…while we only celebrate the 4th of July once a year, mass shootings have become a weekly American tradition – yes , weekly.”
The gunman opened fire around 10:15 a.m., when the parade was about three quarters full, authorities said.
Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill, the incident commander at the scene, said the shooter apparently used a ‘high powered rifle’ to fire from a location on top of a building commercial where he was “very hard to see”. He said the rifle was recovered from the scene. Police also found a ladder attached to the building.
“Very random, very intentional and a very sad day,” Covelli said.
President Joe Biden said Monday that he and First Lady Jill Biden were “shocked by the senseless gun violence that has once again caused heartbreak in an American community on this Independence Day.”
Biden signed the most sweeping gun violence bill passed by Congress in decades, a compromise that showed both progress on a long unresolved issue and the deep partisan divide that remains.
As news of an arrest spread, residents who had been hiding in homes began venturing outside, some walking towards where the shooting occurred. Several people stood and watched the scene, with abandoned picnic blankets, hundreds of lawn chairs and backpacks still where they were when the shooting began.
Police believe there was only one shooter but have warned he should still be considered armed and dangerous. Several nearby towns have canceled events including parades and fireworks, with some noting that the Highland Park shooter is still at large. The Chicago White Sox also announced on Twitter that a planned post-game fireworks display is canceled due to the shooting.
More than 100 law enforcement officers were called to the scene of the parade or dispatched to locate the suspected shooter.
More than a dozen police surrounded a home listed as Crimo’s address in Highland Park on Monday. Some officers held guns as they fixed their eyes on the house. Police blocked roads leading to the house in a tree-lined neighborhood near a golf course, allowing only some law enforcement cars through a narrow outer perimeter.
Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting dozens of videos and songs, some disturbing and violent, on social media.
In an animated video since removed by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “marching in darkness” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a gun, a body on the ground, and another figure with hands raised in the distance. A later image shows a close-up of a trunk with dripping blood and another of police cars arriving as the gunman raises his hands.
In another video, in which Crimo appears in a classroom wearing a black bike helmet, he says he’s “like a sleepwalker…I know what I have to do,” then adds, “It all led up to this. . Nothing can stop me, even myself.
Crimo’s father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Highland Park in 2019, calling himself a “nobody for the people.”
Highland Park is a tight-knit community of about 30,000 people on the shores of Lake Michigan just north of Chicago, with lakeside mansions and sprawling estates that have long attracted the rich and sometimes famous, including the NBA legend Michael Jordan, who lived in the city for years while playing for the Chicago Bulls. John Hughes filmed parts of several films in the city, including “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Sixteen Candles”, and “Weird Science”.
Ominous signs of a joyous event that suddenly turned into horror filled both sides of Central Avenue where the shooting occurred. Dozens of baby strollers – some emblazoned with American flags, abandoned children’s bikes and a helmet adorned with Cinderella images were left behind. Blankets, lawn chairs, coffees and water bottles were knocked over as people fled.
Gina Troiani and her son were lined up with her daycare class ready to march down the parade route when she heard a loud noise she thought was fireworks – until she heard people screaming about a shooter. In a video Troiani shot on his phone, some of the children are visibly startled by the noise and they rush to the side of the road as a siren wails nearby.
“We just start running in the opposite direction,” she told The Associated Press.
Her 5-year-old son was riding his bicycle decorated with red and blue curly ribbons. He and other children in the group held small American flags. The city said on its website that the festivities were to include a parade of bicycles and children’s animals.
Troiani said she pushed her son’s bike, driving through the neighborhood to get back to their car.
“It was just kind of a chaos,” she said. “There were people who were separated from their families, looking for them. Others just dropped their carts, grabbed their kids and started running.
Highland Park resident Debbie Glickman said she was on a parade float with colleagues and the group was preparing to turn onto the main road when she saw people fleeing the area.
“People started saying, ‘There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter, there’s a shooter,'” Glickman told the AP. “So we just ran. We just ran. It’s like a mass chaos there.
She heard no noise and saw no one who appeared injured.
“I’m so freaked out,” she said. “It’s so sad.”