HIGHLAND PARK, Illinois — Police launched a massive manhunt for a rooftop gunman Monday after at least six people were killed and another 24 injured during a parade on July 4th in an affluent Chicago suburb, authorities said.
A high-powered gun has been found and police are looking for a gunman, described as a white male, aged 18 to 20, with long black hair, who opened fire at around 10:14 a.m. CT, Highland Park Police Cmdr. Chris O’Neill told reporters.
Police do not believe the gunman holed up nearby, and they said he should be considered armed and dangerous, officials said.
The city of Highland Park confirmed there was “an active shooting incident” and said all “individuals are advised to take shelter in their places”.
Police were spotted sanding down roofs around Central Avenue near Green Bay Road and Second Street.
“Looks like he was shooting from a rooftop” Lake County SheriffDeputy head Christopher Covelli told reporters. The gunman reached his elevated location by climbing a ladder attached to a building, Covelli added.
The parade included dozens of police and firefighters. Shortly after the gunfire broke out, the officers made their way toward the elevated sniper, causing him to stop and flee.
“He was discreet and hard to see,” Covelli said.
Five of the six dead were pronounced dead at the scene, and the sixth victim died in a hospital, Lake County coroner Jennifer Banek said.
Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness for Northshore Medical Group, said at a news conference that 26 people were initially seen at Highland Park Hospital. Of those, 25, between the ages of 8 and 85, suffered gunshot wounds.
Nineteen of the patients were treated and released, he said. Among the others, some were in critical and serious conditions, Temple said. A few were transferred to nearby trauma centers, he said.
Four or five children were treated in hospital, Temple said.
Six people were taken to Lake Forest Hospital and seven to Evanston Hospital, said Highland Park fire chief Joe Schrage.
Parade-goers who may have lost contact with friends and relatives were urged to go to the Highland Park Police Department to be reunited with them.
After the shooting, discarded camping chairs, American flags, plastic cups and other items lay along the parade route, left behind by people who had come to celebrate the Fourth of July before fleeing for their lives.
In the business district near the crime scene, dozens of people hid in companies, waiting for SWAT teams to take them out.
Helicopters circled overhead as the manhunt continued for the gunman that rained fear on what should have been a celebration of the country’s freedom.
The street was lined with military-style trucks packed with tiresome, armed personnel inside and black, windowless vehicles marked “police rescue vehicle.”
The gunfire, described by police as a “tragic, mass act of violence,” terrorized residents of the typically quiet suburb more than 40 miles outside of Chicago. The average home in Highland Park is valued at $535,000, and more than 75 percent of people 25 and older have college degrees. according to census data†
Mayor Nancy Rotering thanked police officers for their prompt response.
“Our community has been terrorized by an act of violence that has shocked us to the core,” she said.
Illinois State Police also responded, “assisting Highland Park PD with an active shooting situation,” according to a statement the agency tweeted†
Chicago Police Department sent a helicopter and other agents in the manhunt, officials said.
July 4th Events in Other Chicago Suburbs – EvanstonDeerfield and Skokie – were called off in the wake of the shooting.
“There are a lot of communities that don’t look forward to celebrating after something like this happens in their backyard,” Covelli said.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker was at the scheduled Evanston event when the Highland Park shooting occurred.
“There are no words for the kind of monster that is lurking and firing on a crowd of families and children taking a holiday with their community,” Pritzker said. said in a statement†
“I will stand firm on the people of Illinois and the Americans: We must – and we will – end this scourge of gun violence.”
Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., was at the Highland Park event when shots rang out.
“My campaign team and I gathered at the beginning of the parade as filming started,” Schneider said in a statement:† “My team and I are safe and secure.”
Witness Larry Bloom said people initially thought the popping sound was part of the parade.
“You heard like a ‘pop, pop, pop,’ and I think everyone thought it might be a display on one of the floats, and then it just opened up,” he recalled. NBC Chicago†
“I was screaming and people were screaming,” Bloom added. “They panicked and they just spread out, and I, you know, we didn’t know it. You know, it was right above us.”
It was the third major shooting in the US since May.
Ten black people were killed in Buffalo, New York, on May 14 when a white gunman allegedly motivated by racial hatred opened fire at Tops Friendly Market.
Less than two weeks after the Buffalo massacre, 19 children and two teachers were gunned down at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 80 miles west of San Antonio.
The shooting forced Congress to pass gun control legislation, which President Joe Biden signed on June 25.
The bill, the most sweeping legislation aimed at preventing gun violence in 30 years, provides grants to states for “red flag” laws, improves background checks to include juvenile files and closes the “friend in the law” by keeping guns away of unmarried dating partners convicted of abuse.
It also requires improved background checks for people ages 18 to 21 and funding for youth mental health services.
David K. Li reported from New York City and Natasha Korecki from Highland Park, Illinois.