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At least six people were killed and 38 were wounded when someone opened fire from a rooftop during a 4th of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, authorities said.
“On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we are instead mourning the tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us,” Mayor Nancy Rotering said at a news conference.
Chris Covelli of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force said the suspect accessed the roof via a ladder in an alleyway. A “high-powered” rifle was recovered at the scene.
The identities of those killed were not immediately released, but a coroner official said five of them were confirmed to be adults.
Victims of the shooting range in age from 8 to 85, said Brigham Temple, the medical director of NorthShore Highland Park Hospital. Jim Anthony, a spokesperson for the hospital system, later told BuzzFeed News that 38 patients had been brought in, and eight are still receiving treatment as of Tuesday morning.
A person of interest identified as 21-year-old Robert E. Crimo III was arrested Monday evening after an intense search. (Police initially listed his age as 22.)
In an NBC interview Tuesday morning, Rotering said she does not “believe he was previously known to police,” but said she personally knew him as a child, when he was a Cub Scout and she was a troop leader.
“It’s one of those things where you step back and you say, ‘What happened? How did somebody become this angry, this hateful, to then take it out on innocent people who literally were just having a family day out?'” she said.
The gun was “legally obtained,” Rotering added, but said it’s not yet known where it came from.
A YouTube video from Chicago Sun-Times shows paradegoers running after hearing gunshots erupted in the middle of the parade at around 10:14 a.m.
In a Facebook post, Rotering called it “the bloodiest day that we have ever experienced in Highland Park” and said flags would be flown at half-mast.
“Our community, like so many before us, is devastated,” Rotering wrote. “It’s impossible to imagine the pain of this kind of tragedy until it happens in your backyard. … A mass shooting such as this casts a much wider net of agony than what the public is typically exposed to; it’s a crisis that devastates entire families and communities in a single moment and we know will take time to heal.”
Debbie Glickman told the Associated Press she was on a parade float when she saw people running from the route.
“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.”
Jonathan Kind, who was attending the parade during the shooting, told WGN that he thought the gunshots were fireworks at first. He called the shooting “beyond scary.”
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go to a parade again,” he told WGN.
Alexander Sandoval, another parade attendee, told WGN he hid his son by putting him in a dumpster and asked people to watch him so he could go back and get the rest of his family.
In a statement, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker called for an end to “this plague of gun violence.”
“There are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community,” Pritzker added.
The American Public Health Association says gun violence in the US is a public health crisis. It is a leading cause of premature death in the country, responsible for more than 38,000 deaths annually. As of July 4, at least 22,284 people have died from gun violence this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.
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