6 dead after Chicago July 4th parade mass shooting - Governor calls attacks a 'weekly American tradition'
On July 4th another mass shooting was the latest in a long line of recent such events in the US. From the shooting at a primary school in Texas to the killing of Black shoppers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
People were celebrating Independence Day with a parade in Highland Park, a neighborhood of Chicago, when a lone gunman opened fire taking the lives of six individuals and injuring 31.
The parade started like it always does every year in Highland Park (Illinois). However, after less than 10 minutes, at 10 am local time, the perpetrator opened fire on the attendees which included mothers with strollers and children on bicycles.
Christopher Covelli, a spokesperson for the Lake country major crime taskforce told the press that the gunman opened fire on parade-goers from a rooftop of a business using a “high-powered rifle”.
When the shooting started hundreds of marchers and spectators from the close knit community of 30,000 people, began to flee in terror. The Guardian reported that one witness said he heard at least twenty shots.
The Chicago Sun Times reported that a witness named Alexander Sandoval, 39, said he had to hide his son in a dumpster to protect him.
Alexander said, “I picked up my son and started running … we ran behind a building and I put my son in a dumpster and he sat there with his dog and I went back to look for the rest of my family.”
The Chicago Sun Times also shared Meg Coles' experience at the 4th parade. Coles was watching the parade with her 11 and 13 year-old sons about two blocks away from where the shooting occurred.
Coles said, “I just tried to explain to them that this is rare and probably won’t happen again.” However, Coles mentioned that the kids didn't seemed convinced that this was a "rare" occurrence.
Elissa Kaufman, a producer for CBS Chicago, shared a tweet about her experience while attending the parade with her family: "We heard what sounded like multiple gunshots or fireworks. We dropped to the ground and then ran to an undercover parking garage where we were parked. There was a lot of screaming and panic."
With the streets packed with people, chaos took over the parade. Swat teams were sent in and went door to door in search of the attackers.
Residents were asked to shelter in place to protect themselves and facilitate the search.
The Lake County Sheriff's Office tweeted informing citizens to stay out of the area, while warning that they were searching for the shooter.
Naturally, many communities nearby cancelled their Fourth of July parades and celebrations as they feared the gunman would continue his attack.
The author of the massacre, a 22-year-old white man named Robert E. Crimo, took advantage of the avalanche of people to flee the scene in his own car.
This escape caused the search for the suspect to last for hours, raising the tension to the limit, as the police warned that he was an "armed and very dangerous" man.
In a first search, led by the canine unit, as confirmed by the Lake County Sheriff's Office, they found the weapon used in the shooting, another rifle and ammunition but not the perpetrator of the events.
Luckily, hours later, the authorities found Robert E. Crimo and arrested him. According to the Lake County Sheriff's Office, the young man acted alone and defined the attack as "random and intentional."
Authorities say the young detainee had a YouTube channel in which he regularly shared pro-gun videos and how he was in favor of the indiscriminate use of weapons.
Unfortunately, the pattern of the perpetrator of this shooting fits that of the perpetrators of recent shootings like the one in Uvalde, Texas, or Buffalo, New York.
The Illinois Democratic Congressman, Sean Casten, used Twitter to comment on the situation saying: "Only in America do families have to flee from gunfire and get shot at a parade. We CANNOT let gun violence continue another day."
On the eve of July 4th, Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave a jarring speech in Highland Park saying, “If you are angry today, I’m here to tell you to be angry."
Gov. Pritzker went on to say, “I’m furious that yet more innocent lives were taken by gun violence. I’m furious that their loved ones are forever broken by what took place today. I’m furious that children and their families have been traumatized."
Gov. Pritzker concluded by condemning the violence in American: "I’m furious that this is happening in communities all across Illinois and America. While we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become our weekly — yes, weekly — American tradition.”
In a written statement, President Joe Biden said: “Jill and I are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day.”
To add insult to injury less than 12 hours had passed since the Highland Park massacre when two police officer were shot in Philadelphia.
Thousands of people were attending a Fourth of July concert and fireworks show when the officers were shot. CBS3 Philadelphia reported that both officers are in stable condition but the shooter remains at large.
Image: 6ABC Philadelphia
The Highland Park killings has brought more attention to the national debate about arms control, why these deadly occurrences happen so frequently, and why politicians do not seem capable of changing the situation.