A gunman killed 7 people and wounded dozens more during a Fourth of July Parade at Illinois' Highland Park. The incident has been one of the worst mass shootings in the state's history.
The shooter was wielding a "high-powered rifle," which he used to fire at the celebrating crowd from a rooftop.
He was arrested without incident more than eight hours later in Lake Forest.
The man, identified as Robert E. "Bobby" Crimo III, was arrested peacefully at 6:45 p.m. on Monday by Highland Park police. He had been labeled a "person of interest," He was taken into custody after a police officer spotted him after a short chase.
According to Lou Jogmen, the police chief, Crimo was taken to the Highland Park police station.
No charges had been filed against the man by 9 p.m., and it was not apparent that the authorities had determined what had inspired the shootings.
People were relieved after hearing that the suspected shooter was in police custody. Many people drove to the Highland Park police station to express gratitude for their effort.
They were yelling "thank you" and "good job."
Among those waiting for Crimo to arrive at the Highland Park police station was Stacy Shaulman, a Highland Park resident all her life. A few dozen people were waiting outside the police station.
Shaulman was glad that the man had been caught, although she admitted that it had been "a horrific day." She was sad that the suspect was a "Highland Park kid" and "people knew his family."
"His family has been around a long time."
The weapon Crimo used has been recovered, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is looking into its ownership history.
Christopher Covelli, who works at the Lake County sheriff's office and the Lake County significant crimes task force, said that Crimo was "very discreet and very difficult to see."
According to Covelli, the crime was very random and intentional. Crimo apparently used an "unsecured" ladder to get to the rooftop.
Crimo's Victims Were Aged Between 8 And 85 Years Old
Jennifer Banek, Lake County Coroner, revealed that 5 of Crimo's victims died at the scene of the shooting. They were all adults.
The sixth person died while getting treatment at the hospital; their age was not revealed, although all the victims have been identified.
One of those who got killed was Nicolas Toledo, a grandfather visiting his family. Jackie Sundheim, a teacher, also died in the shooting.
Those injured ended up at the Highland Park Hospital, Lake Forest Hospital, and Evanston Hospital. Most got treatment for gunshot wounds, while others were injured in the chaos that started after the shooting began.
Dr. Brigham Temple, who works at Highland Park Hospital, revealed that 25 of the 26 people who got treatment had gunshot wounds, and 19 had been released after treatment.
According to the doctor, these victims were between the ages of 8 and 85 years, and about "four or five" of them were children. One of these children was taken to the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, while another was taken to Evanston Hospital.
According to the doctor, some victims had minor injuries while others had more severe ones.
One of the surgeons attending the patients said it was heartbreaking to see "innocents wounded."
The Shots Were Fired In Rapid Succession
A witness at the parade claimed to have heard over 20 shots.
Miles Zaremski, a resident of Highland Park, told the media that he heard "20 to 25 shots, which were in rapid succession." For this reason, he was sure the shooter did not have a "handgun or a shotgun."
Zaremski also claimed to have seen some people who had been shot during the incident, including "a woman covered with blood" and "did not survive."
The Fourth of July parade in Highland Park was the first since the pandemic.
When the shootings began, people fled from the scene in panic, leaving behind chairs, baby strollers, and blankets while seeking cover. They had no idea what was going on.
The parade was headed to Central Street in downtown Highland Park.
A former reporter, Adrienne Drell, sitting on a curb along Central Avenue, was watching the parade when she saw part of the Highland Park High School marching band fleeing.
Drell heard the students should "Go to Sunset" about a Sunset Foods outlet nearby.
A man helped her off the curb and asked her to get out, and she ran to a parking lot close by along with other people attending the parade:
"There's panic in the whole town. Everyone is just stunned beyond belief."
According to Drell, before the chaos began, everything was peaceful, and people were enjoying the event. Everything changed "within seconds" after that peace was "ripped apart."
"You can't go anywhere, you can't find peace. I think we are falling apart."
Eric Trotter, a 37-year-old resident who lives close to where the shooting took place, had a similar account of what happened:
"I felt shocked. How could this happen in a peaceful community like Highland Park."
People Started Searching For Family Members
Before long, police cars were speeding on Central Avenue, with sirens blaring. Alexander Sandoval, 39, was sitting on a bench crying.
He was up before 7 a.m. to prepare for the parade on this particular day. He set up lawn chairs and a blanket just in front of the parade's main stage.
His home was just a walking distance from the scene. Therefore, he went home to enjoy breakfast with his partner, his son, and his stepdaughter before returning to the parade.
Later, his family would flee from the scene to save their lives from the gunfire. Sandoval saw Navy marchers and float pass by before he heard the gunshots.
He assumed they were saluting the flag by shooting blanks but saw people running. The shots did not stop, and he and his family started running.
Sandoval and his partner ran in different directions. He was with his 5-year-old son Alex, and she was with her 6-year-old daughter Melani:
"I grabbed my son and tried to break into one of the local buildings, but I couldn't. The shooting stopped. I guess he was reloading. So I kept running and ran into an alley and put my son in a garbage dumpster so he could be safe."
He then started to look for the rest of his family, and he saw the bodies lying in pools of blood. Sandoval also saw a little boy who had been shot being carried away.
Eventually, he found his partner and his stepdaughter in a nearby McDonald's.
He felt this sort of thing should not happen at Highland Park or anywhere else.
Another resident, 76-year-old Don Johnson, first thought he heard a car backfire when the shooting began. He joined people running to a BP gas station close by, and he did not imagine anything of the sort could happen in Highland Park.
Not long before, he urged his daughter and her son to move there because it was "safe." Johnson was now convinced that this kind of tragedy could take place anywhere.
The Midwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, David Goldenberg, was also at the parade. He initially thought of putting the chairs close to his family but decided against it and moved them closer to his friends.
Because of this, he avoided being too close to the shooter.
He could not believe what was happening:
"It was chaotic. Those sorts of things that you hear about — those split-second moments accounting for everyone in your family as people are yelling, "There's a shooter! There's a gun!"
Goldberg said he knew one of the adults who got killed, but he would not reveal any details about the victim.
Meg Coles, who had driven from Atlanta with her two sons to visit her sister-in-law, had to explain to the kids that what happened was a rare incident that would probably never happen again.
Still, she is not convinced that they agreed with her. Meg's family was sitting two blocks from the parade route when the shooting started.
When Christina and Angela Sendick, who are 20 and 22 years old respectively, were just showing up to the parade when people started to run, screaming. Some of them were bleeding.
The two sisters were raised close to Waukesha, Wisconsin, where someone killed 7 people and injured 62 others by driving a sport-utility vehicle into a Christmas parade crowd last year in November.
Angela felt that it was "crazy no one can figure out how to put a stop to all this."
Mass Shootings Becoming An American Tradition
Governor J.B. Pritzker spoke in Highland Park on Monday evening:
"If you are angry today, I'm here to tell you to be angry. I'm furious that yet more innocent lives were taken by gun violence."
The governor said he was angry because the loved ones of those killed had been broken and traumatized by what occurred that day. He also said he was angry because such tragedies were occurring throughout Illinois and America.
He pointed out that people were celebrating the Fourth of July once a year but experiencing mass shootings once a week, which had made these tragedies an "American tradition."
President Joe Biden also gave a written statement saying:
"Jill and I are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day."
Other suburbs canceled their Fourth of July celebrations after the shooting in Highland Park.
David Axelrod, a former White House adviser during the Obama administration, sent a tweet saying he knew someone in the parade. He said his friend had taken his kids to the parade in Highland Park.
One of his grown sons has special needs and had to push his wheelchair, which tumbled over at some point. Like the governor, Axelrod felt that these kinds of incidents had become "a sickening American story."
Following Crimo's arrest over the shooting, Jerry Felsenthal, who has been living in Highland Park for 32 years, said he was worried that mass shootings were inevitable now that there were so many guns on the streets:
"It's going to happen again. It's inevitable."
The Highland Park community has yet to come to terms with the devastating tragedy.