HIGHLAND PARK, ILL. – Fireworks mistaken for gunshots triggered panic in multiple cities Monday night as a jittery nation absorbed the news of its latest deadly mass shooting, this time at a Fourth of July parade here with a legally obtained gun.
The toll in this wealthy, liberal Chicago suburb: Six dead, at least 30 wounded and the realization that no city or town is immune to the gun violence rocking America.
Mayor Nancy Rotering signed a city ordinance banning assault weapons almost a decade ago. The Supreme Court later declined to hear an appeal seeking to overturn the ordinance. Rotering said she did not know details on how the alleged shooter obtained the high-powered rifle used in the assault, but she said he did so legally.
“At some point this nation needs to have a conversation about these weekly events involving the murder of dozens of people with legally obtained guns,” she said in an interview on NBC’s Today show. “If that’s what our laws stand for then I think we have to examine the laws.”
Rotering said “somebody clearly had a mental breakdown” but that the focus should be on access to guns, not mental health.
“I want us to talk about the fact that there are weapons of war on our streets that people can legally obtain – and then take out dozens of people,” she said. “Our community is never going to recover from tis wound.”
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, speaking at a news conference hours after the rampage, said the nation’s founding fathers carried muskets, not assault weapons, and would not have agreed to a constitutional right to an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine.
“Grief will not bring the victims back, and prayers alone will not put a stop to the terror of rampant gun violence in our country,” Pritzker, a Democrat, said on Twitter. “I will stand firm with Illinoisans and Americans: we must – and we will – end this plague of gun violence.
The impact of Monday’s shooting rampage was felt across the nation. In Orlando, the fireworks celebration at Lake Eola was abruptly ended amid reports of a shooting that caused a chaotic scramble as the crowd fled the area.
“To our community members now in Downtown Orlando, please know that there is NO evidence of a shooting in the area,” Orlando Police tweeted. “Our officers are now working to secure the area. There is NO public safety hazard at this time.”
In Harrisburg, Pa., fears of a shooting sent hundreds of people running moments before the city’s fireworks display started. Police said the panic may have been prompted when kids threw firecrackers at the ground.
Police later reported that a had broken out but that “contrary to some reports, there were no shots fired.”
In Washington, D.C., two loud noises near 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW prompted people nearby to flee toward the National Mall, The Washington Post reported. Authorities on the scene confirmed the sounds were fireworks and said the noises probably sparked the alarm.
A suspect was named within hours of the shooting, and Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, 21, became the subject of a massive manhunt. At approximately 6:30 p.m., the suspect was apprehended and taken into custody without incident, police said. Video showed a silver Honda Fit – which authorities said Crimo was driving – stopped at an intersection with its doors open. Police had said Crimo was likely armed and dangerous.
“This individual is believed to have been responsible for what happened,” said Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli in announcing Crimo’s arrest. Covelli said a “significant amount of digital evidence” helped lead investigators to Crimo.
Rotering said she remembers the man taken into custody hours after Monday’s rampage from her days as a local Cub Scout leader.
“Its one of those things were you step back and you say ‘What happened?” . “How did somebody become this angry, this hateful to take it out on innocent people who literally were just having a family day out?”
Crimo was being processed by Highland Park police and could be charged Tuesday, Rotering said.