Highland Park shooting: 6 dead at parade in Chicago suburb

More than two dozen people were injured in a “random” mass shooting in Highland Park on Monday morning, at least six of them fatally shot, about 15 minutes into the northern suburb’s Fourth of July parade, according to police and the Lake County sheriff’s office.

The shooter, who police said began firing from a nearby rooftop, had not been caught or identified as of Monday afternoon, and the area around the parade route remained an active crime scene, according to Lake County Deputy Sheriff Chris Covelli. He urged people to stay in their homes and be careful.

“This person is not identified. By all means, at this point, this appears to be completely random,” Covelli said.

Highland Park police were called to the parade route in the area of Central Avenue and 2nd Street around 10:15 a.m. for a report of an active shooter, ”while an Independence Day Parade was in progress,” according to a statement from police.

At least 16 people had been shot, officials confirmed. However, an area hospital said it was treating at least 26 people for injuries suffered during the attack; it did not directly say all 26 had suffered gunshot wounds. Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said 24 people were sent to local hospitals but again she did not confirm all 24 had been shot. Authorities later said “approximately two dozen (people) were injured.”

Police said the gunman “began randomly shooting parade spectators from a rooftop while the parade was in progress.”

The Lake County Major Crime Task Force, Highland Park police and the FBI are leading the investigation, but “there are dozens of police agencies on the scene and our federal partners are deployed as well,” according to police.

There also “is a family/friends reunification site” at the Highland Park Police Department, 1677 Old Deerfield Road, officials said.

The shooter had not been located and people in the area were being advised to “shelter in place.” Highland Park police patrol Cmdr. Chris O’Neill said the shooter remained unidentified and was considered armed. A rifle was recovered from the scene.

The shooter has been described as a “smaller build” white man, who is approximately 18 to 20 years old with long black hair, last seen wearing a white or blue shirt, O’Neill said during a news conference. An FBI tip line (800-225-5324) had been established for information related to the shooter’s identity or whereabouts.

“Our office has been called out for a death investigation in Highland Park,” said Steve Newton, chief deputy with the Lake County coroner’s office.

Newton said authorities were dispatched to the streets of downtown Highland Park.

”It’s still very early in our investigation,” Newton said.

Police in Highland Park redirected traffic away from the eerily quiet parade route about two hours after the shooting. A military-style police vehicle rode outside of NorthShore Highland Park Hospital, where many of the shooting victims were taken for treatment.

Security at the hospital directed reporters away from the emergency room entrance. One security staffer told a reporter the hospital was on lockdown.

Gabriela Martinez-Vicencio, of neighboring Highwood, was at the parade with her 9-year-old daughter to meet up with other family members when the shots rang out roughly 15 to 20 minutes into the parade. She said she and a relative thought initially the blasts were fireworks. She saw a shooter open fire from a nearby roof.

”I just fell to the ground and then my daughter hugged, I guess, my nephew and my niece and then as soon as I was able to reconnect myself I grabbed my daughter because I started screaming out for everybody’s name that I saw and then we ran,” Martinez-Vicencio, 33, said outside of NorthShore Highland Park Hospital, where she was told her niece was being treated for a minor injury after possibly scraping her leg while running away from the gunfire.

“I started crying. We all started crying. Fear. Anger.”

Martinez-Vicencio also said she “bumped into a (woman) and we both fell into the ground. And I grabbed her head because I didn’t want her head to hit the pavement.” Martinez-Vicencio said she pushed her daughter into a nearby store, where she tried to hide her 9-year-old in a room. ”We’re just waiting to everything to calm down. And then she came back out,” Martinez-Vicencio said.

Carrie Mangoubi was at the parade with her three young children and niece when the shooting started. First, she saw the marching band break away from the route and sprint down the street, followed shortly by fire trucks and police cruisers speeding backward down the road.

“It didn’t even cross my mind that there would be a shooter,” Mangoubi said. “Then somebody yelled, ‘There’s a shooter!’ so we just picked up our kids, grabbed them under their arms and just started bolting to the car.”

Mangoubi, of Northbrook, said her heart was still pounding out of her chest several hours after the shooting. Mangoubi’s family moved from the city to the north suburbs in recent years, thinking it would be a safer place to raise their family. Her children were frightened.

“We just explained to them, ‘There’s a bad guy with a gun and we have to run to keep you safe,’” Mangoubi said. “How do you explain this to young children?”

Jack Steward barricaded himself for two hours at the New Balance shoe store he works in, about 100 feet from where he thought the shooting occurred. He was stocking shelves in the back when he heard at least 20 gunshots.

“This is one of the (safest) communities,” the 27-year-old said. “It’s insane you can witness something like this coming to work.”

Shane Selieg, 29, was on a street corner nearby when the tragedy started. He had volunteered to work the holiday as a medic but didn’t expect to see the violence that unfolded. Selieg performed CPR on a gunshot victim, he said, and his leg was covered in blood.

“A lot of shooting. A lot of panic. A lot of fear,” he said, describing the massacre.

On Monday morning, Gov. J.B. Pritzker left a parade he’d been attending in Hyde Park on Chicago’s South Side, according to sources who were there. According to a post on his Twitter page, Pritzker and his staff were “closely monitoring the situation in Highland Park.”

Illinois State Police also were responding, Pritzker said, adding: “We will continue working with local officials to help those affected.” Roads were blocked for approximately 1 mile surrounding the shooting scene.

Peter Kontonis of Highland Park was driving to the parade to meet his family and was approaching the parade route when he saw hundreds of people running.

“It was chaotic. At that point I started calling my family to try to find them and eventually found out they had sheltered inside a building near the route,” Kontonis said. “And so I met up with some of my friends, we picked up some people we knew, because we wanted to make sure they had a ride, and we got out of there.”

Video from the scene showed the chaos that unfolded in the peaceful North Shore suburb. Parents sat on the curb of the parade route enjoying the marching band when the musicians suddenly started running, the instruments they had carefully worked to master held in front of them as they ran for their lives. Families rushed away from the parade route, leaving behind hundreds of empty lawn chairs, strollers, drinks and balloons.

Highland Park resident Eric Trotter described the violence that unfolded: a series of gunshots that at first sounded like fireworks, then a rush to run away. Trotter returned to the scene later, where he saw people helping the wounded and searching for family members.

In the immediate aftermath, dozens of police vehicles filled the streets and officers stood on businesses’ roofs wielding rifles and standing watch.

Soon, officials announced there had been a shooting, with multiple people wounded, shattering the community’s sense of peace and solidarity on America’s Independence Day. Nearby towns canceled their festivities as Metra halted inbound and outbound train movement near Highland Park due to the shooting. Just before noon, Glencoe canceled its Independence Day Parade and sent a text to residents telling them to remain home because the active shooter was still at large.

Michael Solan of Deerfield was in Highland Park before the parade and had been watching workers set up the stage across from the Uncle Dan’s store. He is upset people are milling about in central downtown.

“I was here this morning watching them set up. Definitely a serious issue if someone’s shooting into a crowd. There’s a lot of people here but it doesn’t look like the roofs are covered. It doesn’t look like the buildings are clear and all these things need to be done and expedited to make sure the shooter can’t shoot at us right now. This whole area needs to not only be quarantined off, but all the high points need to be taken out. And we should have snipers, SWAT teams on the high points and they should be looking down.”

Be informed of breaking news as it happens and notified about other don’t-miss content with our free news alerts.
Commenting on the security at the parade, Solon said, “I’m saying it could be better.” But Solon, a trader at the Chicago Board of Trade, added: “I back the blue. They need crisis planning and intervention plans for situations like this and maybe the proper resources to be allocated to their departments so they can have a better response. It’s not their fault — this is management.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider said he was at the parade with his campaign team when the shooting started.

“Hearing of loss of life and others injured. My condolences to the family and loved ones; my prayers for the injured and for my community; and my commitment to do everything I can to make our children, our towns, our nation safer,” Schneider tweeted. “Enough is enough!

According to a post on the village of Deerfield’s page, the municipality canceled its parade and celebration as a result of the shooting in Highland Park. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a statement calling the incident “devastating.” Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey tweeted a call for a special legislative session on crime.

“We must call a special session to address crime on our streets. We need to demand law and order and prosecute criminals,” Bailey said. “We need more police on our streets to keep our families safe. Public safety must be a top priority.” He notably did not mention gun control.

Highland Park was the setting of a large gathering in support of gun control on June 11. The March for Our Lives rally was one of hundreds that took place across the country with the goal of pushing legislators to take bipartisan action on the matter.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.