6 Dead, 30 hurt in Shooting at Chicago-area July 4 parade

Several law enforcement departments monitor the scene of a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade route in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, U.S. July 4, 2022. REUTERS/Max Herman

6 dead, 30 hurt in shooting at Chicago-area July 4 parade

By Michael Tarm, Kathleen Foody and Roger Schneider

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) — A gunman on a rooftop opened fire on an

Independence Day 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 hourslong

manhunt in and around Highland Park, an affluent community of about

30,000 on Chicago’s north shore.

The July 4 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 cause to celebrate its

founding and the bonds that still hold it together.

“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 fired bullets sent hundreds of

parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fleeing. They left a trail of

abandoned items that showed everyday life suddenly, violently

disrupted: 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

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 said

at a news conference “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 or wounded.

Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said the five people killed at the

parade were adults, but didn’t have information on the sixth victim

who was taken to a hospital and died there. One of those killed was a

Mexican national, Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director for North

American affairs, said on Twitter Monday. He 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 of them were treated and discharged. Others were

transferred to other hospitals, while 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,” Illinois 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.

“Very random, very intentional and a very sad day,” Covelli said.

President Joe 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 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 warned that he should

still be considered armed and dangerous. Several nearby cities

canceled events including parades and fireworks, some of them noting

that the Highland Park shooter was still at large. The Chicago White

Sox also announced on Twitter that a planned post-game fireworks show

is 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, was 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.”

Highland Park is a close-knit community of about 30,000 people located

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 for years 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.”

Ominous signs of a joyous event suddenly turned to horror filled both

sides of Central Avenue where the shooting occurred. Dozens of baby

strollers — some bearing American flags, abandoned children’s bikes

and a helmet bedecked with images of Cinderella 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 his daycare class ready to

walk onto the parade route when she heard a loud sound that she

believed was fireworks — until she heard people yell about a shooter.

In a video that Troiani shot on her phone, some of the kids are

visibly 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 coworkers 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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