At least six people were killed and approximately two dozen others were “seriously injured” Monday morning in a shooting at Highland Park’s Independence Day parade, officials confirmed, urging residents to continue to “shelter in place” as the gunman remains at large.
The gunman, who has not yet been identified and whose location is currently unknown, was described by Highland Park police as a white man between 18 and 20 years old with a small build and “longer” black hair. He is wearing a white or blue T-shirt, according to Highland Park Police Cmdr. Chris O’Neill.
“We’re asking everybody to stay indoors,” said Lake County Sheriff Sgt. Christopher Covelli. “Stay vigilant right now. This person has not identified. By all means, at this point, this appears to be completely random.”
Covelli said the gunman shot into the parade with a high-powered rifle from a rooftop. He said police are working to locate the man.
“All indications is he was discreet, and he was very difficult to see,” Covelli said.
In separate social media videos, several gunshots could be heard, followed by a pause and another round of gunfire. In some videos, more than 50 shots are heard.
“Investigators are very, very quickly working to try to identify who this person is, and try to figure out where he’s at,” Covelli said.
Anyone with photos or video of the incident is being asked to turn them into police.
“We’re asking anybody with any video surveillance that they may have, please review your cell phones,” Covelli said. “If you were snapping pictures in the area of Second and Central today, that could help investigators. They may see something in there that may be useful and allow them to proceed further with the investigation. Any business owners in that area we’re asking, please, review your video surveillance. If you have any video surveillance of that area at that time, even if you don’t see anything in there, we would love to be able to take a look at that so we can further our investigation.”
In additional, everyone in the Highland Park area is being asked to report suspicious activity by calling 911 or the Highland Park Police Department at 847-432-7730. The FBI also has established a tip line at 800-CALL-FBI.
As of Monday afternoon, Metra’s Union Pacific North line through Highland Park was not running.
Around 2 p.m. SWAT team members were seen escorting people from the businesses where they were sheltered in place.
NorthShore Highland Park Hospital said in a statement that the facility is treating 26 people, five of whom were transported to NorthShore Evanston Hospital.
“A vast majority suffered gunshot wounds and the remaining sustained injuries as a result of the ensuing chaos at the parade,” NorthShore Highland Park Hospital said.
“We mobilized quickly and within 30 minutes of the event had 20 additional physicians (surgeons, trauma surgeons, orthopaedic specialists, etc.) and nurses and other support staff present. We have both crisis and social workers available on-site to assist with family and friends of the individuals injured.”
Those who are looking to reunite with family members after the parade are being asked to head to the Highland Park Reunification Center at the Highland Park Police Department at 1677 Old Deerfield Road.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker asked for prayers for the families of the deceased and for those who were injured in the shooting.
“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,” Pritzker said in a statement. “There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams, their futures. There are no words I can offer to lift the pain of those they leave behind. Please know that our state grieves with you, that MK and I grieve with you.”
Dr. David Baum, who attended the parade, helped treat those who were injured in the shooting.
“The bodies that I saw, it was not an image that anyone who’s not a physician would have an easy time processing,” said Dr. Baum.
“There were people who were immediately killed with horrific gunshot wounds.”
A large police presence from the state and neighboring suburban Chicago departments was seen along the parade route.
“This is an active incident,” the city of Highland Park wrote in a statement. “All individuals are advised to shelter in place. Law enforcement agencies are searching for the suspect; evidence of a firearm has been recovered. Numerous law enforcement officers are responding and have secured a perimeter around downtown Highland Park.”
“Due to a tragic mass shooting that took place earlier this morning in Highland Park, the City of Evanston will be canceling this year’s 4th of July Parade and celebrations effective immediately.”
Evanston also closed its swimming beaches “following this morning’s tragic shooting event in Highland Park.”
Larry Bloom, who was in the area when shots began, said at first spectators thought the “popping” sound was part of the parade.
“You heard like a ‘pop, pop, pop,’ and I think everybody kinda thought maybe it was a display on one of the floats and then it just opened up,” Bloom said.
“I was screaming and people were screaming,” Bloom said. “They were panicking and and they were just scattering and I, you know, we didn’t know. You know, it was right on top of us.”
The public is being asked to avoid downtown Highland Park as police continue to respond to the shooting “in the area of the Independence Day parade route,” the Lake County Sheriff posted on Twitter.
“STAY OUT OF THE AREA – allow law-enforcement and first responders to do their work,” the sheriff posted.
“The Illinois State Police is currently assisting Highland Park PD with an active shoot situation that occurred at the Highland Park Parade,” police tweeted. “The public is advised to avoid the area of Central Ave and 2nd St. in Highland Park.”
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