President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday sent condolences to the American people after the deadly shooting at a July 4th parade in a Chicago suburb that killed at least seven people and wounded dozens more.
“I want to express my deepest condolences and shock at the deadly mass shooting yesterday at the Fourth of July parade at Highland Park,” said Herzog, who was speaking at a US Embassy event in Jerusalem to mark American Independence Day.
“Unfortunately, we the people of Israel know too well the reality of happy occasions marred by grief. Of evil characters who choose to attack the innocent at their most joyous moments,” the president said. “On behalf of the State of Israel, I extend our sympathies to the families of the victims and I pray for the recovery of the wounded.”
Earlier Tuesday, Israel’s top diplomat to the US Midwest revealed that as many as four Jewish community members were among the seven fatalities.
Consul General in Chicago Yinam Cohen told The Times of Israel his office has confirmed that two of the casualties were Jews and that there were “indications” that two more of the victims may also have been Jewish. Highland Park, where the Monday shooting took place, has a large Jewish community, making up a third of the roughly 30,000 people in the affluent town.
By late Tuesday, six of the victims had been identified, including married couple Kevin McCarthy, 37, and Irina McCarthy, 35; Katherine Goldstein, 64; Jacki Sundheim, 63; Stephen Straus, 88; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78. Every victim was from Highland Park except for Toledo-Zaragoza, who was visiting family in the city from Morelos, Mexico.
So far, only one of the victims, Jacki Sundheim, was publicly identified as Jewish. Sundheim was the events and b’nei mitzvah coordinator at a nearby Reform synagogue, North Shore Congregation Israel.
Cohen told Channel 12 that “despite rumors [to the contrary]… all indications are that there are no Israelis among the dead.”
Asked whether the attack was aimed at the Jewish community, Cohen said that did not appear to be the case. “There are currently no indications that this was an antisemitic incident, even though the profile of the attacker might be thought to match such an incident.”
The suspect has been identified as Robert (Bobby) E. Crimo III, a 22-year-old who regularly posted content glorifying violence on his social media channels. He was charged Tuesday with seven counts of murder.
In addition to killing seven people, Crimo is suspected of injuring at least 31 others, some of them critically, when he opened fire at the parade from a business’s rooftop, sending hundreds of marchers, parents with strollers and children on bicycles fleeing in terror.
During his speech, Herzog also lauded the close ties between Israel and the US and said the country was looking forward to the upcoming visit of US President Joe Biden.
“The Israeli and American peoples are bound together by a deep kinship, which overcomes disagreement and transcends political affiliation,” he said.
“The close strategic alliance Israel and the United States share, most notably in areas of defense and regional security are a fundamental pillar in our bilateral ties,” Herzog said. “We will never take this partnership or friendship for granted. The remarkable American Jewish community also comprises a vital part of the American mosaic.”
Hosting the event, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides stressed “the unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel. “President [Joe] Biden will arrive next week,” he noted. “He has been visiting Israel since Golda Meir was the prime minister. He declares himself a Zionist. We are looking for a fruitful visit.”
“Who knew, 246 years ago, that the ties of the United States of America and the Jewish people would be so close,” said the ambassador. He added: “Even as we celebrate here, we need to keep the people of Ukraine in our minds, as they are still suffering.”
Jacob Magid contributed to this report