'Impossible to imagine': 6 killed, 30+ hurt after gunman opens fire at Highland Park July 4 parade

  • A police officer walks past a child's bicycle that was left along the parade route a block away from the scene of a shooting involving multiple victims that took place at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade Monday.

      A police officer walks past a child's bicycle that was left along the parade route a block away from the scene of a shooting involving multiple victims that took place at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade Monday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • A vehicle driven by the suspect in the Highland Park parade shooting is stopped at Route 41 and Westleigh Road in Lake Forest.

    A vehicle driven by the suspect in the Highland Park parade shooting is stopped at Route 41 and Westleigh Road in Lake Forest. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

  • People are escorted away from the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.

      People are escorted away from the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Officers from the Illinois State Police go door-to-door near the scene of the shooting involving multiple victims at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade Monday.

      Officers from the Illinois State Police go door-to-door near the scene of the shooting involving multiple victims at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade Monday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Officers from the Illinois State Police confer near the scene of a shooting involving multiple victims at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade Monday.

      Officers from the Illinois State Police confer near the scene of a shooting involving multiple victims at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade Monday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering speaks to the assembled media Monday afternoon.

      Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering speaks to the assembled media Monday afternoon. Eric Peterson | Staff Photographer

  • Law enforcement personnel ride on the side of a vehicle near the scene of a shooting involving multiple victims that took place at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade Monday.

      Law enforcement personnel ride on the side of a vehicle near the scene of a shooting involving multiple victims that took place at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade Monday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Police officers walk on Central Avenue near the scene of a shooting involving multiple victims that took place at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade Monday.

      Police officers walk on Central Avenue near the scene of a shooting involving multiple victims that took place at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade Monday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • A first responder rides on a truck toward the scene of a shooting on Central Avenue at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.

      A first responder rides on a truck toward the scene of a shooting on Central Avenue at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Terrified paradegoers fled Highland Park's Fourth of July parade after shots were fired, leaving behind their belongings as they sought safety.

    Terrified paradegoers fled Highland Park's Fourth of July parade after shots were fired, leaving behind their belongings as they sought safety. Lynn Sweet/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

  • A Fourth of July parade-goer runs for cover after gunfire is heard at the parade Monday morning.

    A Fourth of July parade-goer runs for cover after gunfire is heard at the parade Monday morning. Lynn Sweet/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

  • A police officer reacts as he walks in downtown Highland Park.

    A police officer reacts as he walks in downtown Highland Park. Associated Press

  • Law enforcement search in a building after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park.

    Law enforcement search in a building after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park. Associated Press

  • A large police truck approaches the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade on Central Avenue in Highland Park.

      A large police truck approaches the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade on Central Avenue in Highland Park. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • A woman appears in a second-story window as police gather below her near the scene of the shooting on Central Avenue at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.

      A woman appears in a second-story window as police gather below her near the scene of the shooting on Central Avenue at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Police work the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park on Monday.

      Police work the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park on Monday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • FBI agents were on the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade on Central Avenue in Highland Park on Monday.

      FBI agents were on the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade on Central Avenue in Highland Park on Monday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Chairs are abandoned at the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade on Central Avenue in Highland Park on Monday.

      Chairs are abandoned at the scene of the shooting at a Fourth of July parade on Central Avenue in Highland Park on Monday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/4/2022 11:34 PM

A rooftop gunman opened fire on paradegoers in downtown Highland Park Monday morning, turning a happy community event into a deadly tragedy by killing six people, sending panicked parents fleeing with their children and igniting a massive manhunt that ended in the early evening with a suspect in custody.

As of Monday evening police had a 21-year-old man in custody. The Daily Herald is not identifying the man, who had not been charged as of Monday but was described by authorities as the "prime suspect."

 

Witnesses described scenes of panic and chaos as shots rang out at 10:14 a.m. in downtown Highland Park.

"People were climbing under benches. People were climbing on top of children," said Wendy Emanuel Apple of Deerfield, who grew up in Highland Park and was there with 14 family members. "There were people yelling that they couldn't find their parents or they couldn't find their son."

Adults watching the parade grabbed children and ran as fast as they could, leaving abandoned lawn chairs, strollers, bicycles and bags of belongings scattered across the sidewalks. A bass drum abandoned by the local high school band sat unclaimed.

Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said of the six people who died, five of them were adults who died on the street. A sixth person died at Highland Park Hospital, and the age of that victim is not known.

Numbers of the wounded varied, but they included a critically injured child. Most of the wounded are gunshot victims, although authorities said some people were hit by flying shrapnel

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According to a NorthShore University HealthSystem spokesman, 25 of the 26 people treated at NorthShore Highland Park Hospital were gunshot victims ranging in age from 8 to 85; as of Monday evening, 19 of them had been treated and sent home. Two are still being treated at Highland Park Hospital; five are being treated at Evanston Hospital.

Other patients were treated at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and Comer Children's Hospital, the Chicago Sun-Times and CBS 2 reported.

"There's a lot of emotions," said Dr. Mark Talamonti, chairman of surgery at NorthShore University HealthSystem, during a news conference Monday. "But these trauma surgeons -- their reflexes are extraordinary; they know exactly what to do. And these nurses are crackerjack nurses. You stand in awe of their competency and professionalism, but it breaks your heart to see people -- innocents, really -- injured like that."

Fourth of July activities, including festivals and fireworks, were canceled or postponed across the suburbs while the subject remained at large and in deference to the tragedy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

At a news conference Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker pledged that every state resource would be at Highland Park's disposal. He and Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering received calls and offers of federal support from President Joe Biden, they said.

While July 4 is celebrated once a year, Pritzker pointed out, mass shootings occur far more frequently in the U.S.

"It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague," Pritzker said.

Authorities confirm a high-powered rifle believed to have been involved in the massacre was recovered from the rooftop. Deputy Chief Chris Covelli, spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task force, said they believe the shooter got access to the roof by a non-secured ladder in the alley of the building. The task force and the FBI are involved in the investigation.

"It's impossible to imagine the pain of this kind of tragedy until you're confronted with it," Rotering said.

For much of the day, while Highland Park police and other agencies including the FBI searched for the shooter, authorities advised residents in the downtown area to shelter in place. They were later evacuated by SWAT teams. Armed officers were seen going door to door in downtown Highland Park.

Police said earlier they were seeking a 21-year-old person of interest driving a 2010 silver Honda Fit. The shooter was described as a young white man, age 18-20, of small build, with longer than normal dark hair and wearing either a blue or white T-shirt.

A North Chicago police officer spotted the car at Buckley and Route 41 and tried to initiate a traffic stop, authorities said. The driver fled, and the car was stopped at Westleigh Road and Route 41 in Lake Forest. He was taken into police custody without further incident.

Highland Park police and firefighter/paramedics -- many of them in the parade -- responded about 10:15 a.m. to a report of an active shooter around 2nd Street and Central Avenue. Highland Park Fire Chief Joe Schrage said bystanders acted quickly to tie tourniquets on the injured before paramedics arrived. Both police and fire officials responded quickly, he said.

Authorities are asking any paradegoers who took photos and video to study their material for any images that might help investigators. They are asking business owners in the vicinity to check their surveillance tapes as well. Individuals with knowledge of the shooting, including photos or video, are encouraged to call the FBI at (800) CALL-FBI.

Highland Park High School band members and football players participating in the parade, along with staff members and coaches are all safe and accounted for, Township High School District 113 Superintendent Bruce Law said.

All students have been reunited with their parents, Law said.

Counseling will be available for students and staff members and the community at Deerfield High School where summer school is in session. Counseling will also be available for anyone in the community from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Highland Park High School.

"There's been an outpouring of support from area school districts and counseling resources," Law said. "We are most grateful for their support."

At a news conference held at the command center for emergency responders set up next to Highland Park Fire Station #33, Mayor Rotering said offers of assistance have poured in from all over the region. "We are accepting all offers of help," she said.

"Six people have lost their lives, and we are grieving for them and their families," she said.

State Sen. Julie Morrison, a Lake Forest Democrat who was at the parade with her family, cited the normalization of gun violence and blamed it on "elected officials who have the power to put their constituents' lives ahead of the gun lobby but fail to do so every chance they get."

"Instead we have a Supreme Court that just put our country on a path to even more guns on our streets and a Congress that's patting themselves on the back over a watered-down gun reform package that does little to stop the death sentence that is life in America right now," Morrison said.

Two weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law prohibiting citizens from carrying firearms in public for self-defense, ruling it violates the Second Amendment. The previous law required people to demonstrate a particular need to get a license to carry a gun in a concealed way in public.

"Even in Highland Park, a town with some of the strictest gun laws in Illinois, lives are at risk from the lack of gun control," Morrison said in a statement.

At the news conference with Pritzker, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a U.S. Army veteran who lost both legs and the partial use of her right arm in 2004 when her helicopter in Iraq was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, referenced the weapon authorities say the shooter used and the sound it makes.

"The last time I heard a weapon of that capacity firing that rapidly on the Fourth of July was Iraq," said Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat.

Pritzker pointed out that America's Founding Fathers, celebrated on July 4, "carried muskets, not assault rifles."

"If you're angry today, I'm telling you to be angry," Pritzker said. "I'm furious. ... because it does not have to be this way."

• Daily Herald staff writer Steve Zalusky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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