Six victims dead and 24 hospitalised in mass shooting at July 4 parade in Illinois with gunman still at large
Six people have been killed and another 24 hospitalised in a mass shooting at a July 4 parade in Illinois with a manhunt now under way for the gunman who allegedly opened fire from a roof above the festivities.
Gunfire erupted at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park around 10 minutes after the Independence Day celebrations kicked off at 10am on Monday morning .
Late on Monday, police identified Robert Crimo as a person of interest in the shooting.
Mr Crimo was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday.
Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill told a news conference just before 2pm that the suspect was a white male 18-20 years old, with long black hair, small build, and wearing a white or blue t-shirt.
Sgt Christopher Covelli, from the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, said the shooter appeared to have taken up a sniper position on the rooftop.
The conditions of the injured ranged from serious to critical, Mr Covelli added.
“This was very random, very intentional and a very sad day,” Mr Covelli said during a later update, adding the suspect could still be in city or could have fled the area.
They recovered a high-powered rifle from the scene, but still consider the suspect to be armed and dangerous, police said.
Residents have been urged to shelter in place.
More than 100 local, state and federal law enforcement officers, including the FBI, are working on the investigation, Mr Covelli said.
Highland Park mayor Nancy Rotering said the shooting has “terrorised” the city of 30,000.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims during this devastating time. On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we’re instead mourning the tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us,” Ms Rotering said.
She asked everyone in the area to remain calm, and on “high alert”.
“Please contact your loved ones and ensure that they’re safe and let them know that you’re safe as well. This situation, as you know, is evolving rapidly and we will continue to update you as we gain information and stabilise the situation,” Ms Rotering said.
Witnesses told WGN9 that the suspect was positioned on top of the roof of an Uncle Dan’s retail store when they began firing into the parade below.
President Joe Biden led condemnation of the shooting.
“Jill and I are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day.”
Mr Biden, who signed gun control legislation into law last month, said there was “much more work to do”.
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker condemned the shooter’s actions on Monday afternoon.
“There are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community,” he said in a statement.
“There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams, their futures.”
Senator Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat, said in a tweet he was “praying for all”.
“Unimaginable horror at this mass shooting. Details are hard to even repeat. My office is in touch with law enforcement agencies searching for the suspected shooter.”
Footage posted on social media shows revellers and parade participants suddenly fleeing in panic as gunfire erupted in the streets.
In the TikTok video, which has been widely shared, families are seen sitting on the kerb of the sidewalk watching a marching band walk past.
Suddenly a voice starts yelling “gunshots” and the parade watchers start to leap up from the ground.
The marching band members break into a run and sprint off in the direction of the parade route.
Screams are heard in the background and people flee from the area as local residents who had come to enjoy the family-friendly Independence Day celebrations are forced to seek shelter.
One local resident told the Associated Press that she was riding a parade float when she saw people running away from the area.
“People started saying ‘There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter, there a shooter,’” said Debbie Glickman.
“So we just ran. We just ran. It’s like mass chaos down there.”
Multiple law enforcement agencies are on the scene including Illinois State Police, Highland Park Police and Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Illinois State Police tweeted at around 11.20am local time: “The Illinois State Police is currently assisting Highland Park PD with an active shoot situation that occurred at the Highland Park Parade.
“The public is advised to avoid the area of Central Ave and 2nd St. in Highland Park.”
Lake County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that it was also assisting Highland Park Police with a shooting along the parade route.
“We are assisting Highland Park Police with a shooting in the area of the Independence Day parade route. STAY OUT OF THE AREA - allow law-enforcement and first responders to do their work,” the department said.
Highland Park is around 25 miles north of Chicago.
The shooting marks the latest gun violence to tear apart a community in the US, coming just weeks after 21 students and teachers were killed in a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and 10 Black people were killed in a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.