Six people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, and more than two dozen people were taken to area hospitals with injuries, officials said. Some of the victims, including at least one child, were in critical condition when they were transported from the scene, Highland Park Fire Chief Joe Schrage told reporters.
Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, who had been identified as a person of interest, was arrested around 6:30 p.m. local time, nearly nine hours after the shooting. Officials said his vehicle was spotted and he was stopped after a brief pursuit. He is being taken to the Highland Park Police Department as the investigation continues.
“This individual is believed to have been responsible for what happened,” Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Chris Covelli said Monday night.
Police and witnesses earlier in the day said it appeared the gunman was shooting at the crowd from the roof of a business near the parade route.
Investigators said a firearm had been recovered from the scene. Covelli described the weapon as “a high-powered rifle.”
Hours after the shooting, heavily armed law enforcement authorities were seen at what is believed to be Crimo’s family home in Highwood, just north of Highland Park,. Neighbors told CBS Chicago that the person of interest lives at the home with his father and uncle.
FBI agents had been going in and out of the house throughout the evening.
Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek told reporters five adults died at the scene. The sixth victim died at a hospital, Banek said, adding that she didn’t have details about that person.
Dr. Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness at Highland Park Hospital, said that a total of 26 people were brought to the medical facility, 25 of whom had suffered gunshot wounds. Six patients were taken to Evanston Hospital, four were taken to Glenbrook Hospital, and several others were taken to hospitals outside of the Northshore University Medical System network.
Of the patients initially taken to Highland Park Hospital, two were transferred to Evanston Hospital: one to get further neurosurgical care and another to be treated at the pediatric unit there. Another patient was transferred to Skokie Hospital and a fourth patient was transferred to Homer Children’s Hospital following emergency surgery.
As of Monday evening, 19 patients at Highland Park Hospital had been treated and discharged, Temple said; only two patients remained at Highland Park Hospital and both were in stable condition.
The patients’ ages ranged from 8 to 85 years old, Temple said, and he estimated that four or five of the patients were children.
Over 100 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies, including the FBI, Illinois State Police and Lake County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the shooting in the suburb north of Chicago at around 10:14 a.m.
Covelli said the gunman stopped firing as officers approached the building and then managed to elude authorities.
“All indications is he was discreet and he was very difficult to see,” Covelli said.
“It sounds like spectators were targeted … very random, very intentional and a very sad day,” Covelli said.
Investigators are combing through surveillance cameras looking for information on the shooting, CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton reports. They are also going over cellphone video of bystanders at the parade.
Police and ambulances from several jurisdictions swarmed the area in the aftermath of the shooting. Video from the scene showed people being placed into ambulances.
digital producer Elyssa Kaufman, who was watching the parade with her family, heard the sound of gunshots.
“Everyone was was running, hiding and screaming,” Kaufman said. “It was extremely terrifying. It was very scary. We are very fortunate, we got out very quickly.”
Witnesses told CBS Chicago there was confusion in the initial aftermath of the shooting over whether the loud bangs were part of the Independence Day festivities.
“I remember seeing people, like, you know, running and ducking and, you know, just screaming,” a woman told CBS Chicago. “I ran with my daughter, and I ran into, like, a little store, but I was scared because I didn’t know if they were coming … or if they were, you know, like, in the building.”
A video posted to Twitter by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet, who was at the parade, showed a band playing on a truck in the parade as a crowd of people passed the truck, running the other way.
Sweet told CBS News the shooting happened near the reviewing stand for the parade.
“I saw things that people shouldn’t see,” she said. “I saw bodies. I saw wounded people. I saw pools of blood.”
She estimated hundreds of people were lined up along the parade route, in some places two or three people deep. She said it was clear people left in a hurry.
“You saw baby carriages; they’re still out there on the scene … there are water bottles,” she said. “It’s just a moment frozen in time where people didn’t care about any belongings because they wanted to get out of there.”
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said the rest of the festival has been canceled, and several nearby communities also canceled their parades.
“On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we’re instead mourning the loss, the tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us,” Rotering said at a news conference after the shooting.
President Biden said in a statement that he and first lady Jill Biden “are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day. 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.”
Speaking on the South Lawn at the White House, Biden later remarked, “You all heard what happened today. With each day, we’re reminded there’s nothing guaranteed about our democracy. Nothing guaranteed about our way of life. We have to fight for it, defend it, and earn it by voting.”
Governor JB Pritzker urged all Illinoisans to pray for the victims, their families, and the first responders. “But grief will not bring the victims back, and prayers alone will not put a stop to the terror of rampant gun violence in our country. I will stand firm with Illinoisans and Americans: we must — and we will — end this plague of gun violence,” he said in a statement.
At a Monday evening press conference, Pritzker said, “I want to begin today by honoring the heroic actions of law enforcement who ran toward the gunshots that they heard today. In particular, lives were saved because the Highland Park Police Department courageously protected and served their community.”
“There are no words for the kind of evil that shows up at a public celebration of freedom, hides on a roof and shoots innocent people with an assault rifle,” Pritzker said before calling for more action of gun control.
“Mass shootings have become our weekly, yes, weekly American tradition,” he said. “There are going to be people who say today is not the day, that now is not the time to talk about guns. I’m telling you there is no better day and no better time than right here and right now. … Our founders carried muskets, not assault weapons. And I don’t think a single one of them would have said that you have a constitutional right to an assault weapon with a high capacity magazine, or that that is more important than the right of the people who attended this parade today to live.”
Speaking at the same press conference, Senator Tammy Duckworth echoed Pritzker’s call for gun control legislation, praising thesigned into law last month but saying, “today we have seen that we can’t just stop there.”
“We have to get rid of assault weapons, high capacity magazines and so many other additional commonsense reforms that wide majorities of Americans are crying out for,” she said.
“I just listened to the sound of that gunfire from one of the videos that was captured, and let me tell you that the last time I heard a weapon with that capacity firing that rapidly on a Fourth of July, was Iraq. It was not the United States of America,” added Duckworth, who was wounded in combat in 2004. “We can, we should and we will do better.”
Later Monday night, Senator Dick Durbin also thanked law enforcement and medical personnel who responded to the shooting.
“Today was a day we’ll remember for a long time. It was the best of America with those men and women that I just described. It was the worst of America, that a man took a rifle, a high-velocity rifle, and turned it on innocent people and ruined lives and ruined many families,” Durbin said.
Durbin also called for expanded gun control legislation, mentioning limits on assault weapons and high capacity magazines as well.
Highland Park, the Park District of Highland Park, Highland Park High School, Township High School District 113 and
North Shore School District 112 said Monday in a joint statement that they are “grieving for the victims and the families of the horrific shooting today at what should have been a happy and joyous celebration.”
The statement said that counseling professionals would be made available Tuesday at Highland Park High School for “students, staff and community members.”
Kathryn Watson contributed reporting.