6 dead and 2 dozen others wounded at parade in Chicago suburb of Highland Park; police arrest person suspected in shooting

  • In US
  • 2022-07-05 00:31:00Z
  • By Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO - On an idyllic summer morning, from a rooftop high above the Highland Park Independence Day parade, a gunman aimed down at the floats and lawn chairs and strollers and opened fire.

Members of the high school marching band sprinted for their lives, still carrying their flutes and saxophones. Bystanders scooped up young children and fled. In all, six people were killed and some two dozen others were injured, either by rifle fire or in the stampede away from the scene. The victims ranged in age from 8 to 85.

It was the Fourth of July, and the affluent Chicago suburb of Highland Park became the latest American community to be terrorized by a mass shooting.

For hours after the attack, officers searched building by building near the parade route, which was littered with belongings abandoned in the chaos: A double stroller. Balloons. Bikes. Pacifiers. Sandals. A hat printed with stars and stripes.

After an hourslong manhunt, authorities arrested 22-year-old Robert "Bobby" Crimo III on Monday evening. North Chicago police spotted him and gave chase; he was ultimately arrested without incident in Lake Forest, according to the Highland Park police chief. He was returned to Highland Park as the investigation continued.

While police recovered a rifle from the scene, and federal authorities are performing a trace to try to determine its origin, the attacker was being considered armed and dangerous throughout the search, authorities said.

Howard Prager was playing his tuba aboard a float with six other musicians from the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, entertaining the crowd with freilach - a "joyous" type of Jewish music.

The piano player was the first to notice everyone scatter. Prager thought at first they had spotted a celebrity and were racing over. The band kept playing.

Then he saw the faces of the people running: "panic and scared mode."

"I am shellshocked by the whole thing," he said. "I don't know what was in (the shooter's) mind that he was so hateful that would cause this type of carnage."

Hospital leaders said Monday that 26 people were rushed to Highland Park Hospital, all but one of whom had suffered gunshot wounds.

Four or five of the patients were children, said Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness at NorthShore University HealthSystem.

While most were treated and discharged, others were taken to other local hospitals, including a child who was transported by helicopter to Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago.

"There's been a lot of different events that have happened in the United States and this obviously now has hit very close to home," he said. "It is a little surreal to have to take care of an event such as this but all of us have gone through extensive training."

In response, many northern suburbs canceled their planned Fourth of July celebrations due to safety concerns or out of respect for the victims. Metra halted inbound and outbound train movement near Highland Park due to the shooting. And for hours, the parade route remained eerily quiet.

Highland Park is an affluent suburb nearly 30 miles north of downtown Chicago. In 1998, Vanity Fair said the largely white and Jewish community "has the feel of a gated community without the actual gates." Michael Jordan made his home there for a time when he was with the Bulls.

While no motive was given for the shooting, some witnesses speculated that the community may have been targeted because of its significant Jewish population. The northern suburbs have seen a rash of antisemitic sentiment in recent months, including on Holocaust Remembrance Day in April, when someone left antisemitic fliers in driveways in Highland Park.

Crimo appears to perform under the name Awake the Rapper. Videos connected to that name online, some of which feature Crimo's face, include eerie and violent imagery, including drawings of a person with a long gun and animations of injured people.

Police on Monday evening shut off access to the streets near what was believed to be Crimo's home. An armored police vehicle drove down his street, and officers gathered, chatting on the nearby street corner, though the home was out of sight from the police perimeter. Police guarded the perimeter with rifles. Reporters and neighbors gathered nearby, and a helicopter hovered overhead.

Speaking outside a Highland Park fire station late Monday afternoon, Gov. J.B. Pritzker decried the shooting, saying he spoke with President Joe Biden about it earlier. They both agree on one thing, Pritzker said: "This madness must stop."

"If you're angry today, I'm here to tell you, be angry. I'm furious. I'm furious that yet more innocent lives were taken by gun violence. I'm furious that their loved ones are forever broken by what took place today. I'm furious that children and their families have been traumatized," Pritzker said, flanked by several elected officials including U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth. "While we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become our weekly - yes, weekly - American tradition."

Pritzker noted how some might feel like "today is not the day" to talk about gun control or gun rights but then said "there is no better day and no better time than right here and right now."

"It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague," said Pritzker. "A day dedicated to freedom has put into stark relief the one freedom we as a nation refuse to uphold - the freedom of our fellow citizens to live without the daily fear of gun violence."

Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey tweeted a call for a special legislative session on crime.

"We must call a special session to address crime on our streets. We need to demand law and order and prosecute criminals," Bailey said. "We need more police on our streets to keep our families safe. Public safety must be a top priority." He notably did not mention gun control.

Biden on Monday afternoon said he offered Pritzker the full support of the federal government.

He also said he was "shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day." He then touted his recent signing of "the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost 30 years into law, which includes actions that will save lives. But there is much more work to do, and I'm not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence."

Vice President Kamala Harris, who is slated to be in Chicago on Tuesday, echoed the sentiment.

"We are thankful to law enforcement and the first responders who arrived at the scene today and undoubtedly saved lives," she said in a statement. "Today's shooting is an unmistakable reminder that more should be done to address gun violence in our country."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider said he was at the parade with his campaign team when the shooting started.

"Hearing of loss of life and others injured. My condolences to the family and loved ones; my prayers for the injured and for my community; and my commitment to do everything I can to make our children, our towns, our nation safer," Schneider tweeted. "Enough is enough!"

Highland Park was the setting of a large gathering in support of gun control on June 11. The March for Our Lives rally was one of hundreds that took place across the country with the goal of pushing legislators to take bipartisan action on the matter.

And less than a decade ago, Highland Park found itself at the center of the national gun control debate, when a local pediatrician unsuccessfully challenged the town's ban on assault weapons in a case that made its way to some of the nation's highest courts.



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