Independence Day parade shooting in Chicago claims 6 lives, wounds 24

Independence Day parade shooting in Chicago claims 6 lives, wounds 24

shooting

Another mass shooting has rocked the US, with a sniper taking aim at an Independence Day celebration parade in Chicago this morning.

Six people were killed and 24 wounded when the gunman fired into the holiday crowd from a rooftop at around 10:14 am in Highland Park, an affluent suburb half an hour north of Chicago, in the Midwestern state of Illinois. 

Video capturing the parade showed musicians in the marching band fleeing as gunshots were heard in the background. 

One woman who was present at the scene told CNN, “Everyone thought it was fireworks.” 

“My dad thought it was part of the show, and I’m like, ‘Dad, no… something is wrong,’” she said. “And I grabbed him. And I looked back at him, and then it was just a sea of panic, and people just falling and falling. I saw a girl shot and killed… saw her die.”

Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill described the shooting as a “horrific, senseless, random act of violence”.

The suspect, who is still at large, was described as a white male with dark hair in his late teens or 20s. Police said that the shooter had used a “high-powered rifle,” and that “firearm evidence” was found on the rooftop of a nearby business.

In the past few hours, police have identified a person of interest in the shooting — a 22-year-old male named Robert E Crimo III. The FBI have issued a Law Enforcement Assistance notice, publicly declaring him a suspect for “his alleged involvement in the shooting.”

“He is considered armed and dangerous,” Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said.

Lake County coroner Jennifer Banek said that five people died at the scene, and a sixth died later in hospital from their wounds. 

Most of the victims were taken to Highland Park Hospital, where doctors treated more than two dozen people with gunshot wounds aged between eight to 85.

O’Neill revealed during the press conference that several law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the state police and the local sheriff’s office were assisting with the emergency response.

Spokesman Covelli said it appeared the spectators were targeted in an act that was “very random, very intentional and very sad”.

Highland Park’s mayor Nancy Rotering said the shooting had “shaken” her community.

“This morning at 10:14, our community was terrorised by an act of violence that has shaken us to our core. Our hearts go out to the victims at this devastating time.” 

“On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we’re instead mourning the tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us.” 

US Representative Brad Schneider, who was present at the parade, tweeted simply: “Enough is enough!”

In a statement made on Monday afternoon, President Joe Biden said he was shocked at the latest shooting and vowed to keep fighting “the epidemic of gun violence” sweeping the US.

“Jill and I are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day,” Biden said.

“As always, we are grateful for the first responders and law enforcement on the scene. I have spoken to Governor Pritzker and Mayor Rotering, and have offered the full support of the Federal government to their communities. I also surged Federal law enforcement to assist in the urgent search for the shooter, who remains at large at this time.”

Biden added that he plans to “monitor closely as we learn more about those whose lives have been lost and pray for those who are in the hospital with grievous injuries.”

Founder of gun reform group Mom’s Demand Action, Shannon Watts, said, “Media reporting the gunman – a white teen or young man – had a rifle and was in a ‘sniper position’ on a rooftop as he picked off people below at the Highland Park parade. This isn’t freedom; it’s terrorism.” 

Gun control advocacy organisation, Giffords Courage, led by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, expressed a similar sentiment, suggesting, “this is not normal. We should be able to live free of the fear of being shot.”

Shortly before the tragic shooting on Monday morning, the National Rifle Association gun lobby group took to Twitter to commemorate Independence Day, writing: “We are a country because of brave souls with guns who valued and fought for liberty and freedom.”

The video was narrated by a voice which says: “The only reason you’re celebrating Independence Day is because citizens were armed. Happy Fourth of July from the National Rifle Association of America.”

Multiple appeals have since been made to take the post down. “You should be ashamed to leave this tweet up on a day like today,” one person tweeted.

This latest mass shooting follows a series of gun violence, including the shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas which killed 19 students and two adults, and the racially motivated massacre of Black people in Buffalo, New York, which claimed the lives of ten people. 

In the US, according to the Gun Violence Archive website, roughly 40,000 deaths a year are caused by firearms, including suicides. 

Last week, President Joe Biden signed the first significant bill on gun safety that would strengthen background checks for gun buyers, limit firearms from more domestic violence offenders and assist states in implementing red flag laws that simplify the processes for authorities to strip weapons from people considered dangerous.

The signing came just days after the Supreme Court ruled that American citizens had a fundamental right to carry a handgun in public.

Image: EPA / BBC

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