6 dead, ‘person of interest’ held in mass shooting at July Fourth parade in Chicago area
A gunman on a rooftop opened fire on a Fourth of July parade in suburban Chicago on Monday, killing at least six people, wounding at least 30 and sending hundreds of marchers, parents with strollers and children on bicycles fleeing in terror, police said.
Authorities said a man named as a person of interest in the shooting was taken into police custody Monday evening after an hours-long search around Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on Chicago’s north shore.
The July Fourth shooting was just the latest to shatter a ritual 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 cause to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.
Images show the chaotic aftermath of a shooting during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb. At least six people are dead and 24 others hospitalized.
“It definitely hits a lot harder when it’s not only your hometown but it’s also right in front of you,” resident Ron Tuazon said as he and a friend returned to the parade route Monday evening to retrieve chairs, blankets and a child’s bike that he and his family abandoned when the shooting began.
“It’s commonplace now,” Tuazon said of what he called yet another American atrocity. “We don’t blink anymore. Until laws change, it’s going to be more of the same.”
The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had staked out prime viewing points early in the day for the annual celebration. Dozens of bullets sent hundreds of paradegoers fleeing, some of them bloodied. They left a trail of items: A half-eaten bag of potato chips, a box of chocolate cookies spilled onto the grass, a child’s Chicago Cubs cap.
“There’s no safe place,” said Highland Park resident Barbara Harte, 73, who had stayed away from the parade fearing a mass shooting, but later ventured from her home.
Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said a police officer pulled over Robert E. Crimo III about five miles north of the shooting scene, several hours after police released the man’s photo and an image of his silver Honda Fit, and warned the public that he was likely 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 that identifying him as a person of interest, sharing his name and releasing other information was a serious step.
Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said at a news conference that several victims died at the scene and that one died at a hospital. Police have not released details about the victims or wounded.
Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said the five people killed at the parade were adults. Banek did not have information on the sixth victim, who died at the hospital.
Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director for North American affairs, said Monday on Twitter that one of the dead was a Mexican national, adding that said two other Mexicans were wounded.
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 were treated and discharged. Others were transferred to other hospitals; two patients in stable condition remained at the Highland Park hospital.
“It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference.
“I’m furious because it does not have to be this way... while we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become a weekly — yes, weekly — American tradition.”
The shooter opened fire around 10:15 a.m., when the parade was about three-quarters through, authorities said.
Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill, the incident commander on scene, said the gunman apparently used a “high-powered rifle” to fire from a spot atop a commercial building where he was “very difficult to see.” He said the rifle was recovered at the scene. Police also found a ladder attached to the building.
President Biden on Monday said he and First Lady Jill Biden were “shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day.”
Biden signed the widest-ranging gun violence bill passed by Congress in decades, a compromise that showed at once both progress on a long-intractable issue and the deep-seated partisan divide that persists.
As a word of an arrest spread, residents who had hunkered in homes began venturing outside, some walking toward where the shooting occurred. Several people stood and stared at the scene, with picnic blankets, hundreds of lawn chairs and backpacks left abandoned.
Several nearby cities canceled events including parades and fireworks, some noting that the Highland Park shooter had been at large. The Chicago White Sox also announced on Twitter that a planned post-game fireworks show was canceled due to the shooting.
More than 100 law enforcement officers were called to the parade scene or dispatched to find the suspected shooter.
More than a dozen police officers on Monday surrounded a home listed as an address for Crimo in Highland Park. Some officers held rifles as they fixed their eyes on the home. Police blockaded roads leading to the home in a tree-lined neighborhood near a golf course, allowing only select law enforcement cars through a tight outer perimeter.
Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, is an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting on social media dozens videos and songs, some ominous and violent.
In one animated video since taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in darkness” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on the ground and another figure with hands up in the distance. A later frame shows a close-up of a chest with blood pouring out and another of police cars arriving as the shooter holds his hands up.
In another video, in which Crimo appears in a classroom wearing a black bicycle helmet, he says he is “like a sleepwalker… I know what I have to do,” then adds, “Everything has led up to this. Nothing can stop me, 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.”
A shooting in downtown Sacramento — not far from the state Capitol and a popular area for bars and clubs — has killed one person and wounded four.
Highland Park is a close-knit community of about 30,000 people on the shores of Lake Michigan just north of Chicago, with mansions and sprawling lakeside estates that have long drawn the rich and sometimes famous, including NBA legend Michael Jordan, who lived in the city when he played for the Chicago 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 his daycare class ready to walk onto the parade route when she heard a sound that she believed was fireworks — until she heard people yell about a shooter. In a video that Troiani recorded on her phone, some kids are startled at the loud noise, and they scramble 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 bike decorated with red and blue curled 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 children’s bike and pet parade.
Troiani said she pushed her son’s bike, running through the neighborhood to get back to their car.
“It was just sort of chaos,” she said. “There were people that got separated from their families, looking for them. Others just dropped their wagons, grabbed their kids and started running.”
Debbie Glickman, a Highland Park resident, said she was on a parade float with co-workers and the group was preparing to turn onto the main route when she saw people running from 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 mass chaos down there.”
She didn’t hear any noises or see anyone who appeared to be injured.
“I’m so freaked out,” she said. “It’s just so sad.”
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