At least six people died and 31 were wounded in a shooting at a July Fourth parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, after a suspect fired on the festivities from a rooftop, police said Monday.
Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill, the incident commander on scene, urged people to shelter in place as authorities search for the suspect. He was later identified and arrested after a short chase.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it had received information about Jewish casualties. Highland Park is an affluent suburb roughly 25 miles north of downtown Chicago. At least one-third of its 30,000 residents are Jewish and many are Israeli.
Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said at a news conference that the gunman opened fire on parade-goers from a rooftop of a local business, using a rifle that was recovered at the scene.
Covelli said police believe there was only one shooter and warned that he should still be considered armed and dangerous. He described the shooting as “random but intentional,” adding that the suspect appeared to have targeted the parade spectators.
Police later identified the shooter as Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 22, and said he was believed to be driving a 2010 silver Honda Fit with Illinois plates. He had been described as having long dark hair, a short build and wearing a white or blue t-shirt.
Authorities seeking a "person of interest" in the #4thofJuly parade mass shooting in Highland Park, #Illinois. He's identified as Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, who is 22 and believed to be driving a 2010 silver Honda Fit with Illinois license plate DM80653. https://t.co/aFOBSY414c pic.twitter.com/0kws0lXLxb
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) July 4, 2022
Police said he was considered armed and dangerous and warned the public not to approach him.
Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said later Monday evening that a police officer briefly chased Robert E. Crimo III as he drove about five miles north of where the shooting occurred before the man pulled over and was taken into custody.
Police declined to immediately identify Crimo as a suspect but said identifying him as a person of interest, sharing his name and other information publicly was a serious step.
Police ran toward the sound of the gunshots but they had ceased by the time the officers arrived at the scene, Covelli said. He called the weapon used a “high-powered rifle,” without specifying which kind.
Police have not yet publicly identified the victims, and Covelli called on witnesses to hand over any cellphone footage they might have taken from the area between Second Avenue and Central Street.
Several of the six casualties were pronounced dead at the scene while at least one was rushed to the hospital where they succumbed to their wounds, according to police. There were other victims in both serious and critical condition, Covelli said.
— Lynn Sweet (@lynnsweet) July 4, 2022
Dr. Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness for NorthShore University Health Center, said the Highland Park hospital received 26 patients after the attack and all but one had gunshot wounds. Their ages ranged from 8 to 85, and Temple estimated that four or five patients were children.
He said 19 of them were treated and discharged. Others were transferred to other hospitals, while two patients, in stable condition, remained at the Highland Park hospital.
The parade began around 10 a.m. but it was suddenly halted about 14 minutes later after shots were fired. Hundreds of parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fled the parade route, leaving behind chairs, baby strollers, plush toys, bicycles and blankets. Video shot by a Sun-Times journalist after the gunfire rang out shows the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, a local Jewish music group, playing on a float as bystanders begin to scatter, screaming.
Mass shooting reported at the 4th July Parade at Highland Park, Illinois, United States. Over 25 rounds fired at the parade. Suspect believed to be a male with large yellow backpack. 250 mass shootings in United States in 2022. Three were killed yesterday in Denmark shootout. pic.twitter.com/vsDLh8lRWr
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) July 4, 2022
US President Joe Biden said he and First Lady Jill Biden were “shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day.”
He said he urged Federal law enforcement to cooperate with local police in the search for the shooter and would continue to monitor the situation.
“I recently signed the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost thirty years into law, which includes actions that will save lives. But there is much more work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence,” Biden said in a statement.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims at this devastating time. On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we are instead mourning the tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us,” said Mayor Nancy Rotering at a press conference.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement: “There are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community.”
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he was “devastated” by the news from Highland Park “where a day of celebration became a day of tragedy. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and all the American people.”
“Today as always, Israel stands with our American friends,” he added in a tweet. Lapid’s office said he spoke with Israel’s Consul General in Chicago Yinam Cohen who provided initial details on the shooting.
Cohen tweeted, “I am following the horrible news from Highland Park. Our hearts and prayers are with the members of the community. We thank the local authorities for their immediate response.”
As of early afternoon, ominous signs of a joyous event suddenly turned to horror filled both sides of Central Street where the shooting occurred. Dozens of baby carriages, some bearing American flags, abandoned children’s bikes, a helmet bedecked with images of Cinderella were left behind in their haste. Blankets, lawn chairs, coffees and water bottles were knocked over as people fled.
Police, some in camouflage gear and many clutching AR-style weapons, continued to pour into the area.
Armed FBI agents in camouflage escorted a family with two small girls across Central Street hours after the shooting. The children looked visibly frightened even as their mother attempted to reassure them that the agents leading and flanking them would protect them.
“Don’t worry, you’re safe now,” she told them. “These guys will protect you.”
Police said they had received multiple reports of heroic actions by members of community and first-responders who managed to save lives thanks to their quick action.
Highland Park Police initially said in a statement early Monday afternoon that five people had been killed and 19 people were taken to hospitals. but those numbers were revised at the news conference.
Gina Troiani and her son were lined up with his daycare class ready to walk onto the parade route when she heard a loud sound that she believed was fireworks — until she heard people yell about a shooter.
“We just start running in the opposite direction,” she told The Associated Press.
Her 5-year-old son was riding his bike decorated with red and blue curled ribbons. He and other children in the group held small American flags. The city said on its website that the festivities were to include a children’s bike and pet parade.
Troiani said she pushed her son’s bike, running through the neighborhood to get back to their car.
In a video that Troiani shot on her phone, some of the kids are visibly startled at the loud noise and they scramble to the side of the road as a siren wails nearby.
It was just sort of chaos,” she said. “There were people that got separated from their families, looking for them. Others just dropped their wagons, grabbed their kids and started running.”
Debbie Glickman, a Highland Park resident, said she was on a parade float with coworkers and the group was preparing to turn onto the main route when she saw people running from the area.
“People started saying: ‘There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter, there’s a shooter,’” Glickman told the Associated Press. “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.”