HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – Six people were killed and about 24 wounded as gunfire and chaos shattered a Fourth of July parade in this affluent Chicago suburb, police said.
The shooter – described as a white male with dark hair, 18 to 20 years old – was still at large, and residents were warned to shelter in place. Video from the scene shows scores of people running for cover as music continues to play minutes after the event began at 10 a.m. local time.
“Our community was terrorized by an act of violence that has shaken us to our core,” Mayor Nancy Rotering said at a news conference. “On a day when we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we are instead mourning the tragic loss of life.”
Lake County Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said the gunman apparently opened fire from a rooftop. A rifle was recovered at the scene, but the suspect should still be considered armed and dangerous, Covelli said.
“We’re asking everybody to stay indoors,” Covelli said. “Stay vigilant right now.”
Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said he and staffers were gathering at the start of the parade when the shooting started. 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 I can to make our children, our towns, our nation safer,” he tweeted. “Enough is enough!”
Sirens wailed on the 88-degree, overcast day as law enforcement vehicles flew past residential streets and residents stood anxiously on driveways and sidewalks. Clothing stores, restaurants and gift shops line the tree-shaded, brick sidewalked street leading into the center of town, where a large American flag waves above caution tape and rows of police cars.
Abandoned lawn chairs, wagons and bikes were scattered along the parade route. Curious residents walked along the sidewalks as officers with rifles stand along the edges of a park downtown.
Manuel Rangel, 28, said he saw dozens of people running past his house, away from the parade area downtown.
“They looked scared. They were panicking,” he told USA TODAY. “You never see those things here. It’s a quiet place.”
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Emir Gomez, 41, stood outside his parents’ house across from the fire station as sirens continued to blare and a helicopter flew overhead. He said he was visiting his parents for the parade and was positioned near the end of the parade.
“It’s a tradition that we do every year,” he said. “We saw two cop cars go in the opposite direction, which was unusual. We saw people running. There were carrying what they could.
“This kind of thing shouldn’t be happening here. And now it has. Are we safe anywhere?”
Debbie Glickman, a Highland Park resident, told the Associated Press she was on a parade float with coworkers and the group was prepared to turn onto the main route when she saw people running away from the area.
“People started saying, ‘There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter, there a shooter,’” Glickman said. “So we just ran. We just ran. It’s like mass chaos down there.”
She didn’t hear any noises or see anyone who appeared to be injured.
“I’m so freaked out,” she said. “It’s just so sad.”
Highland Park is about 25 miles north of Chicago on Lake Michigan. The Village of Deerfield, three miles west of Highland Park, tweeted that “due to a shooting in Highland Park, Family Days activities at Jewett Park have been cleared and the parade is canceled. Please share that the parade activities are canceled with your family and friends.”