HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – Six people were killed and at least two dozen injured Monday as gunfire and mayhem shattered a July 4 parade in this affluent Chicago suburb, and a manhunt was underway for the killer.
Authorities have identified a person of interest as 22-year-old Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo, who is believed to be driving a silver 2010 Honda Fit. Crimo was described as a black-haired white man and believed to be armed and dangerous.
The home at an address listed for Crimo a few blocks from the scene of the shooting was surrounded by law enforcement vehicles Monday night. Several police cars and at least one armored vehicle were parked outside.
Residents have been asked to shelter in place while the suspect is searched for. Video from the scene shows dozens of people running for cover as music continues to play minutes after the event began at 10 a.m. local time on Monday.
“We’re asking everyone to stay indoors,” Lake County Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said. “Stay alert at this time.”
President Joe Biden said in a statement that he and his wife were “shocked by the senseless gun violence that has once again caused heartbreak in an American community on this Independence Day.” there is still a lot of work to do.”
Covelli said the shooter apparently fired from a rooftop around 10:14 a.m. and a high-powered rifle was recovered from the scene.
Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said the five people killed in the parade were adults, but had no information about the sixth victim, who died in a hospital.
Dr Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness at NorthShore University Health System, said the facility had received 26 patients from the attack and 25 of them had gunshot wounds, including four or five children. He added that 19 of the injured have been treated and released. Temple also said at least 10 other patients were taken to other area hospitals.
Hundreds involved in manhunt and investigation
SWAT teams ushered bystanders out of buildings after fleeing the street, Covelli said. Hundreds of federal, state and local officers were involved in the manhunt and investigation, he said. The Justice Department said Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting and the investigation. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted local authorities.
Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said he and staffers were gathering at the start of the parade when the shooting began. All are safe, he said.
“My condolences to the family and loved ones; my prayers for the injured and for my community; and my commitment to do everything possible to make our children, our cities, our nation safer,” he tweeted. “Enough is enough!”
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Highland Park, home to about 30,000 people, is about 25 miles north of Chicago on Lake Michigan. Clothing stores, restaurants and gift shops line the shaded street with brick sidewalks leading downtown, where a large American flag fluttered above warning tape and rows of police cars.
Abandoned lawn chairs, carts and bicycles were strewn along the parade route. Sirens wailed on the 88-degree overcast day as law enforcement vehicles flew over residential streets. Curious residents walked along the sidewalks as officers armed with rifles stood along the edges of a downtown park.
Alexander Sandoval, 39, an entrepreneur, was shaking as he stood outside his neighbour’s house with his 5-year-old son, partner and 6-year-old daughter. He said he set up chairs right in front of the stage at 7 a.m., three hours before the festivities started.
“When it all started happening, we thought it was the navy saluting the flag,” he told USA TODAY. “Shots rang out. I grabbed my child and ran.”
Sandoval said he tried to break through a store window to get inside a building and ended up putting his son along with Sandoval’s younger brother and the family dog in a large trash can before picking up his girlfriend and daughter.
“I saw people shot to the ground. I saw two, three people shot dead. I saw a policeman carrying a little boy, my son’s age. It’s just moving,” he said. “I just heard the bullets hit. I just know I had to keep moving.
“Everyone started to panic”
Manuel Rangel, 28, said he saw dozens of people running outside his house, away from the downtown parade area.
“They looked scared. They were freaking out,” he told USA TODAY. “You never see those things here. It’s a quiet place.
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Sharon Genest, 70, stood outside her home across from a fire station. An American flag and star decorations hung on his front door. She said she picked up her 8-year-old granddaughter to watch the parade on Monday morning and was there when the band members marching in the parade suddenly dispersed and ran.
“I was only two blocks away. And when they said to run, you run. But everyone started panicking,” she said. “There was a little pandemonium.
Emir Gomez, 41, stood outside his parents’ house opposite the fire station as sirens sounded and a helicopter hovered overhead. He said he was visiting his parents for the parade and was positioned near the end of the parade.
“It’s a tradition we do every year,” he said. “We saw two police cars drive off in the opposite direction, which was unusual. We saw people running. They carried what they could.
“Things like this shouldn’t happen here. And now it is. Are we safe anywhere?”
Local celebrations canceled
Local officials in communities near Highland Park announced the cancellation of the celebrations on Monday.
The rest of Highland Park’s Fourth Fest was canceled as law enforcement responded to the shooting, according to Mayor Nancy Rotering. More than 10 surrounding communities also announced cancellations and closures.
Officials from the villages of Glencoe and Glenview noted that although there were “no incidents or direct threats” to the surrounding areas, the events were canceled out of an abundance of caution. Residents have been asked to stay indoors.
The Chicago White Sox originally planned a postgame fireworks display Monday, but announced plans to hold a minute’s silence instead.
“The entire Chicago White Sox organization expresses its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the innocent victims of today’s horrific shooting and to all those affected by this tragedy.” wrote the team in a press release.
Other major cities plan to continue their July 4 events and celebrations.
As an added precaution, more metal detectors will be added to “Let Freedom Sing!” of Nashville. The Music City July 4 event, according to Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corps.
“We are devastated by what happened today in Illinois. Our hearts go out to the entire Highland Park community,” Spyridon told USA TODAY on Monday. “We can only prepare and take all the possible precautions, but we believe that the enemy cannot win and we must all continue in the best possible way.”
Contributor: Thao Nguyen