What happened in the eight hours after shots rang out at Highland Park's July 4 parade
Typically the sidewalk crowds are five rows deep at Highland Park's Fourth of July Parade -- it's that beloved.
Resident David Goldenberg didn't take any chances.
"I had gone out at 7:30 in the morning and put out chairs right in the middle of downtown Highland Park," he said.
He would move his chairs later, a switch that might have saved his life -- and the lives of his children -- on a day when tradition would quickly devolve into tragedy.
There was no hint of that, however, as the parade got underway.
At 9:30 a.m. Monday, a Children's Bike and Pet Parade stepped off, followed by the main event at 10.
Among the marchers was League of Women Voters member Nancy Goldberg, walking proudly behind a red convertible. "People were giving us the thumbs-up," she said.
Fifteen minutes into the fun, a man lurking on the roof of a downtown building picked up a high-powered rifle and shot into the carefree crowd below.
On the sidewalk, Debra Natenshon was having a three-generation moment with her parents and another couple -- all in their 70s and 80s -- as they watched for her trumpeter son, Gabi, in the marching band.
When gunfire broke out, Natenshon recognized the sound yet knew she was not going to be able to run with "four people who are elderly."
Instead, she yelled, "'Get on the ground!'" and pulled her mother down. Her father remained standing but was not hurt. The other man covered his wife's body with his own.
When the shooting stopped, Natenshon called Gabi on her phone. He didn't answer.
"I think it was the worst moment of my entire life," she said.
A minute later, Gabi called back. "It was a beautiful morning and a horrifying day," said Natenshon, a leader with the Highland Park High School band booster group.
She credits Director of Bands Josh Chodoroff for his quick reaction. Chodoroff used his "band voice" to direct the terrified students to a bus that returned them to school.
"He had the wherewithal to manage it," Natenshon said.
Richard Isenberg and his wife, Nettie, were celebrating their 46th year watching Highland Park's parade with their children and grandchildren.
They had secured a perfect spot near the viewing stand when the rampage started. "At first, it sounded like firecrackers, and then we realized these weren't firecrackers, that these were shots, and that's when everybody started screaming and running," Richard Isenberg recalled.
Their family tradition is now the stuff of nightmares.
"You can't unhear it," Nettie Isenberg said of the gunshots. "I can't not see the terror in my grandchildren's faces."
'All hell broke loose'
Thousands of parents and caregivers at the parade faced the unimaginable.
Initially, Goldenberg had placed his chairs across from the shooter's hiding place.
But he found a better location. "Lo and behold, had we stayed there, we would have been right in the middle" of the violence.
As band members ran past and people screamed warnings, Goldenberg looked to his three young kids.
"We scooped them up. At one point, my oldest was with one of our friends. I mean, they weren't more than 15 feet away. But that was probably the longest couple minutes until we had her accounted for," said Goldenberg, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Michla Schanowitz, the wife of the rabbi at Highland Park's Central Avenue Synagogue, was perched outside the temple with four of her niece's children, age 10 or younger.
The parade "was only underway for 15 minutes when all hell broke loose," Schanowitz said.
"People were screaming: 'Active shooter!' I could just see throngs of people running for their life. Nobody was picking up blankets or chairs. That was all left behind. Strollers, wagons."
Schanowitz controlled her panic and told the kids, "'We're going inside. It's hot outside, we're going inside.' And they just started following me."
For Highland Park resident Joe Wallace, when the rifle sounded, "I immediately knew and I said to myself, 'That's gunfire.' I quickly grabbed my wife by the arm and started walking fast to our home," Wallace recounted.
"As soon as I heard ... I knew something was amiss. I knew I had to get away."
Others sheltered wherever they could. Highland Park resident Jody Lieberman Weinberg planned to walk the route with husband, Dean, and their dog, Bear, following the marching band.
"We enjoy listening to them and stop along the way to talk to friends and people we see."
The trio had traveled just east of Gearhead Outfitters, an outdoor gear and apparel store on Central Avenue, when mayhem broke out.
"We ducked into a doorwell, and when it all stopped, our instinct was to get inside, to be someplace safe," Lieberman Weinberg said.
That place was Gearhead, and its managers went "above and beyond in helping people and handling the situation."
The staff provided safe places to convene, paper towels and cups for water, as well as activities to keep children busy.
"They were really focused on keeping people protected and away from the windows," Lieberman Weinberg said. They were also careful about who was entering and leaving the store.
LWV marcher Goldberg and the red convertible had traveled about one-quarter of the route when she heard a popping noise. Then came "a tsunami of people running."
Goldberg and her husband fled, finding shelter behind a bank.
"It shows a vulnerability that we all have," said Goldberg, communications chair for the League of Women Voter's Highland Park-Highwood chapter.
As the chaos unfolded, Goldenberg remembers police squad cars "sort of like flipped around and they were heading back up the hill," toward the shots.
The fact myriad Highland Park police and firefighters were on hand saved lives and propelled the investigation, authorities said.
As armed Highland Park police hunted for the sniper, paramedics and paradegoers with medical expertise triaged the wounded.
Longtime Highland Park resident and attorney Miles Zaremski estimated "the sound of gunfire lasted 10 to 14 seconds," and then a crowd began rushing east on Central Avenue.
Around 10:40 a.m. Zaremski observed three deceased women lying in pools of blood, as authorities shooed spectators away.
He was asked to leave by sheriff's officers with guns drawn.
"From a law enforcement, medical emergency response, it couldn't have been better," Zaremski said.
'Shaken us to our core'
Around 1 p.m., Highland Park and Lake County Major Crimes Task Force officials briefed the media.
"This is an active incident and all individuals are still urged to shelter in place at this time," Highland Park police Cmdr. Chris O'Neill warned.
He gave a description of the suspect: "a white male, 18 to 22 years old, with long black hair, small build, and wearing a white or blue T-shirt."
Task force spokesman and Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli cautioned, "He is considered armed and dangerous."
Then came the horrific news: Six people had died and about two dozen were hospitalized with injuries.
"Our community was terrorized by an act of violence that has shaken us to our core," Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said.
Throughout the day, local law enforcement joined forces with state police and the FBI as experts combed social media, tracked records, searched buildings and checked tips.
About 26 people were rushed to NorthShore Highland Park Hospital. They ranged in age from 8 to 85.
Bannockburn physician Dr. Jill Green treated a 2-year-old Deerfield boy grazed by a bullet at his home because the family was too traumatized to visit an emergency room.
"I was just happy to go over there and check him out," Green said, adding the wound was not serious but definitely came from a bullet.
Later Monday afternoon, authorities released the name of a suspect, who was arrested about eight hours after the mass killing began when he was stopped on southbound Route 41 and surrendered. The 21-year-old Highwood resident was charged Tuesday with seven counts of first-degree murder after a seventh person succumbed to wounds.
Six of the victims have been identified: Katherine Goldstein, 64, of Highland Park; Irina McCarthy, 35, of Highland Park; Kevin McCarthy, 37, of Highland Park; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63, of Highland Park; Stephen Straus, 88, of Highland Park; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, of Morelos, Mexico.
Homeowner Joe Wallace was shaken Tuesday. "I just couldn't believe it was happening here. It's a really safe community and I'm just very sad."
• Daily Herald staff writers Joe Lewnard, Susan Sarkauskas and Barbara Vitello contributed to this report.