What was supposed to be a fun day turned into a nightmare. At least six people were killed and 26 injured in a shootout in the American town of Highland Park near Chicago during a parade marking Independence Day, the American national holiday, on Monday, July 4th. A 22-year-old suspect was arrested and taken into custody. Here’s what we know after this attack.
Shots aimed at spectators of the parade
Hundreds of people were out on the streets of Highland Park. The city of 30,000, about 40 kilometers north of Chicago, Illinois, celebrated July 4th like the rest of the country. High school brass bands marched through the streets towards a square under the gaze of many families with children.
Police were notified of the first shots fired around 10:14 a.m., local police commander Chris O’Neill quoted as saying by the New York Times. According to a witness interviewed by the newspaper, who came with his family, the gunman aimed at spectators waiting for the parade. “We heard about 50 shots, we all thought it was fireworks,” a woman who witnessed the tragedy commented on CNN, describing “people falling one after the other.”
Active shooter in Highland Park, IL. Avoid Central Avenue. My nephew recorded this video. pic.twitter.com/nUFRElrVZi
— eNreeKaii (@Ri_Kayyy) July 4, 2022
@josefrivera2 ##ShowYourJOWO #FORDfortheBuilders￼ #ShowYourJOWO #DeserveADrPepperDuet ♬ Original sound – Jose F Rivera
According to the initial findings of the investigation, the shooter was on the roof of a shop that was accessible via an emergency staircase. “He was very discreet and difficult to see,” said Christopher Covelli, a police spokesman. A “powerful” rifle was found by police where the shooter was located, who fled shortly after police arrived at the scene.
At least 6 dead and 36 injured
According to the latest report, six people died in the shooting. Five people died at the scene and one more after being taken to the hospital. At least 36 people were also injured: 26 people, ages 8 to 85, were taken to Highland Park Hospital and at least 10 to nearby facilities, according to a hospital official quoted by the New York Times.
Authorities deployed a key security device with hundreds of police officers, armored vehicles and federal reinforcements. Highland Park has set up a consultation at a local school and several nearby towns have canceled planned celebrations for the day.
A 22-year-old suspect who posted violent images
The suspect identified by the police is a 22-year-old man “from the region”, whose name and photo they published. He was spotted in his car north of Chicago and briefly attempted to flee before being arrested and taken into custody “without incident,” the Highland Park Police Chief said Monday night. “The charges are unapproved at this point — and we’re a long way from that,” Christopher Covelli told CNN Monday night.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the man had posted several videos on the Internet in which he alluded to firearms and shootings. On the Internet, where he presents himself as a musician from Chicago under the pseudonym “Awake the Rapper”, a few months earlier he had posted a video showing people being shot, with the audio comment: “I just need the doing (…) is my destiny . Everything led me to this. Nothing can stop me, not even myself.” A clip described by CNN shows him in a classroom-like studio, wearing headphones and a bulletproof vest. His accounts on YouTube and other social networks were unavailable on Monday evening.
The motive for the shooting is still unclear. Prior to the suspect’s arrest, Christopher Covelli claimed the targets were “accidental” but the attack was “premeditated”.
A “bloody day” fueling the firearms debate
“On the day we came together to celebrate our community and freedom, we instead mourn the tragic loss of life,” said Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, who described the shooting as “the bloodiest day ever.” , whom the city has known. “There are no words for this type of monster,” said Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, who also called for stricter gun laws: “I am angry that new lives continue to be taken by gun violence … While the Fourth of July is celebrated once.” mass shootings have become a daily American tradition,” the official added.
For his part, President Joe Biden promised “shocked” after this new bloodbath “not to give up the fight against the epidemic of gun violence”. “There’s still work to be done,” the Democrat leader noted after the recent passage of legislation tightening criteria for firearm purchases.
The United States is still reeling from a series of shootings, including one in May at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that killed 21 people, including 19 children. More generally, the country has faced a rise in gun violence, with more than 22,000 people killed since the beginning of the year, according to the Gun Violence Archive website. Another shooting took place in a Chicago neighborhood the same day, leaving five injured.