4th of July celebrations in Highland Park, Illinois end in terror after mass shootings leave 6 dead and dozens injured

The suspected shooter, identified by authorities as Robert E. Crimo III, used a “high-powered rifle” in an attack that appeared to be “random” and “intentional”, police said. They believe the gunman, who was apprehended later Monday, climbed onto the roof of a business and opened fire on the parade about 20 minutes after it began.

Passers-by first thought the sound of gunfire that pierced the sunny parade just after 10 a.m. along the city’s Central Avenue, about 25 miles north of Chicago, was a fire. artifice, until hundreds of attendees began to flee in terror — abandoning strollers, chairs and American-flag paraphernalia strewn in the streets.

“It looked like a combat zone, and it’s disgusting. It’s really disgusting,” said Zoe Pawelczak, who attended the Independence Day parade with her father.

The carnage punctuates an already bloody American spring and summer – in the past 186 days, there have been more than 300 mass shootings in the United States, according to data compiled by Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that follows such incidents.

“There are no words for the kind of evil that shows up at a public celebration of freedom, hides on a rooftop and shoots innocent people with an assault rifle,” the governor said. Illinois, JB Pritzker. “It is devastating that a celebration of America has been torn apart by our uniquely American plague.”

Police captured the suspect near Lake Forest, Illinois following an intense manhunt in the Chicagoland area. He was taken into custody after leading officers on a brief car chase before being arrested.

Evidence of firearms was found on the roof of a business near the shooting, Police Commander Chris O’Neill said Monday. The shooter used a ladder attached to the wall of the building from an alley to access the roof, said Christopher Covelli, spokesman for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.

Police said they are investigating who purchased the gun and its origins.

Of the six people killed, five adults died at the scene and one at the hospital, according to Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek. The age of the sixth victim is not yet known.

A total of 26 patients were seen at Highland Park Hospital, said Dr. Brigham Temple, medical director of NorthShore University Health System. The injured ranged in age from 8 to 85 – four or five patients were children, Temple said.

He said 19 of the 25 gunshot victims were treated and released. There were gunshot wounds to the extremities as well as more central parts of the bodies, he added.

Law enforcement officers work at the scene after a mass shooting during a 4th of July parade on July 4 in Highland Park, Illinois.

“We must do more”

Last year was the worst year on record since Gun Violence Archive began tracking mass shootings in 2014. There were a total of 692 mass shootings in the United States in 2021, according to the organization at non-profit.

The Highland Park attack comes after several recent mass shootings that shocked the nation, including the racist attack on an 18-year-old at a New York supermarket that killed 10 people and the shooting of another youngster 18-year-old at a Texas school that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
A Lake County police officer walks down Central Ave in Highland Park on Monday.

In the wake of those massacres, President Joe Biden signed into law the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades, marking a significant bipartisan breakthrough on one of the most contentious political issues in Washington.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said during a visit to Highland Park on Monday evening that more needed to be done on gun legislation.

“There is no reason for anyone to own a military assault weapon. It has no value for hunting, sport or even self-defense,” he said. “It’s a killing machine.”

The scene following a shooting in Highland Park on July 4.

What we know about the suspect

Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Covelli said law enforcement officials “processed a significant amount of digital evidence,” which helped investigators identify Crimo as suspect.

“This individual is believed to be responsible for what happened and the investigation will continue. The charges have not yet been approved at this time – and we are a long way from that,” he said. declared.

Suspect in connection with mass shooting during 4th of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois has been taken into custody

Crimo, who calls himself “Awake the Rapper,” has released music videos online on several major streaming sites and a personal website, some featuring animated scenes of gun violence.

In a video titled “Are you Awake”, a cartoon animation of a stickman shooter – resembling Crimo’s appearance – is seen in tactical gear performing an attack with a rifle. Crimo is seen narrating, “I just have to do it. It’s my destiny.”

The suspect’s uncle, Paul A. Crimo, told CNN he spoke to law enforcement at length on Monday and described his nephew as a “lonely, quiet person.”

He said he didn’t know any political views of his nephew, although he described him as active on YouTube.

His brother, who is the suspect’s father, was previously a candidate for mayor.

“I’m so sorry for all the families who lost their lives,” said Paul Crimo.

Stories of Terror

Witnesses told stories of sheer terror after the shooting in the affluent suburb of Chicago.

Miles Zaremski said he heard what he thought was about 20 to 30 gunshots, in two consecutive bursts of gunfire, around 10:20 a.m. CT, shortly after the parade began. He told CNN he saw a number of people bleeding and on the ground and described the scene as chaotic.

Zoe Pawelczak, who attended the Independence Day parade with her father, said parade goers at first thought the array of pops were fireworks for the occasion.

“And I was like something was wrong. I grabbed my dad and started running. All of a sudden everyone behind us started running,” he said. she declared. “I looked back probably 20 feet from me. I saw a girl shot and killed.”

Jeff Leon and his wife were about to watch their 14-year-old twins walk in the parade with the high school football team when gunfire rang out.

“We were going to try to get them,” Leon said. They then saw a man “who had an evident extremely deep gunshot wound along the right side of his head above the temple”. Leon said he heard maybe 20 or 30 pops before he looked to his right and saw police moving and people falling.

Steve Tilken told CNN he took shelter in the basement of a store with his wife, two grandchildren and dozens of others as police searched the area for the shooter.

“We were just ducks sitting right there and a bullet could go through our whole body,” he said.

CNN’s Joe Sutton, Shawn Nottingham, Chuck Johnston, Curt Devine, Eric Levenson, Claudia Dominguez, Melissa Alonso, Brynn Gingras, Steve Almasy, Jeff Winter, Yahya Abou-Ghazala, David Williams and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

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