Funerals for Highland Park shooting victims begin Friday

GLENCOE, Ill. – Rain began falling Friday morning as dozens of people gathered at a synagogue in this Chicago suburb to remember the life of one of the seven people fatally shot at a Fourth of July parade in neighboring Highland Park.

Couples and families dressed in suits, blazers and dresses walked into North Shore Congregation Israel, where the late Jacquelyn “Jacki” Lovi Sundheim, 63, had taught preschool and helped organize events. 

“We are horrified. We are enraged,” Rabbi Wendi Geffen told the community gathered in the bright, spacious temple as light streamed through the windows.

Geffen added: “Jacki died because she was murdered. And in that, there is no comfort for us to take away as we mourn Jacki’s death — no silver lining, no light in the darkness.”

As Geffen shared memories of Sundheim’s life, many shed tears. At times, the crowd chuckled when speakers recalled how Sundheim, ever meticulous, used to manage staff at events, work the High Holidays and fiercely defend her loved ones. They described a teacher, traveler, baker, knitter and lifelong congregant who was the glue of her community and the historian of her large family.

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She was a protective older sister, a devoted wife and her daughter’s best friend, Geffen said. The longtime Highland Park resident leaves a legacy of “kindness and devotion,” Geffen said.

Friday’s service came four days after a gunman fired more than 70 rounds from a rooftop with a legally purchased assault rifle.

The gunman, 21, also wounded dozens more people. nearly 40 people. Among those who died in the attack: the parents of a 2-year-old boy.

One of the youngest victims injured in the shooting, an 8-year-old boy, was still in critical condition in a hospital after being shot in the chest.

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Relatives of another victim, Eduardo Uvaldo, were expected to travel from Texas and Mexico to attend his burial Friday on what would have been Uvaldo’s 70th birthday, the New York Times reported. It was not immediately clear when or where the burial would happen.

Uvaldo died Wednesday from a gunshot wound to the head after he was taken off a ventilator Tuesday, according to a verified GoFundMe page set up by his family. Uvaldo’s grandson and wife were also injured in the shooting.

Uvaldo and his family attended the Highland Park July Fourth parade every year “filled with happiness and laughter,” his granddaughter, Nivia Guzman, wrote on the page. “My grandpa is a kind, loving, and funny man who did not deserve this,” the page says. 

Elsewhere, family members put their arms around each other and wiped tears away at a Friday afternoon service for Chicago financial adviser Stephen Straus, 88, at Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston.

Attendees fanned themselves with programs and followed along as two speakers sang Psalm 23 from the Bible.

Stephen’s son Jonathan described his father as a “consummate joke-teller” who always kept family members on their toes.

Jonathan said that when he learned from a doctor’s phone call that his father had been killed, “it was the worst moment of my life, without a doubt.”

“I hope that somehow the country can pull itself together and end this type of violence,” Jonathan Straus said.

Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker was in attendance at both the service for Straus and the earlier service for Sundheim.

Stephen Straus was buried at Oak Woods Cemetery on Chicago’s South Side, where he was born, according to an online obituary

Area residents visit a memorial to the seven people who lost their lives in the Highland Park, Ill., Fourth of July mass shooting, Wednesday, July 6, 2022, in Highland Park. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: ILCA131

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A service for Nicolas Toledo, 78, was planned for Friday evening at Iglesia Emanuel in Waukegan, Illinois. There was expected to be a closed service for the family, followed by a service for friends and the church.

The family of Nicolas Toledo is "shattered," his granddaughter Alba Toledo says.

Toledo, a great-grandfather and dual Mexican American citizen, spent most of his life in Morelos, Mexico, and moved to Highland Park a few months ago to be with family, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, told the Chicago Sun-Times. He had eight children, a big smile and bright blue eyes, Xochil told the outlet.

Alba Toledo, 23, told USA TODAY her grandfather loved drawing, hunting, fishing and going for walks in the park. “My grandfather was a great person, with an enormous heart,” she said.

Yesenia Hernandez, granddaughter to Nicolas Toledo, who was killed during Monday's Highland Park., Ill., Fourth of July parade, writes on a memorial for Toledo along with the six others who lost their lives in the mass shooting, Wednesday, July 6, 2022, in Highland Park.

Information on services for the other victims was not immediately available.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged the suspected gunman with seven counts of first-degree murder. Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said that, if convicted, the gunman faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“We anticipate dozens of more charges,” Rinehart said.

Contributing: N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY.

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