August 9, 2022

US: Illinois shooting: Six dead in 4 July parade shooting near Chicago

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By Marianna Brady in Illinois and Leo Sands in London
BBC News

GETTY IMAGES
 A large number of police have been deployed to find the suspect who is described as “armed and dangerous”

Six people have been shot dead at a Fourth of July Independence Day parade near the US city of Chicago, city officials say.

The event in the city of Highland Park was suddenly halted shortly after 10:00 local (15:00 GMT), when several shots were heard. 

Police officials said they were still searching for a white man, aged 18-20, described as “armed and dangerous”.

City authorities said 24 people had also been hospitalised.

“We are aggressively looking for the individual responsible for this shooting,” Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli told reporters.

Residents have been urged to stay at home and contact their loved ones to make sure they are safe. 

Law enforcement officers, who are searching for the suspect, have secured a perimeter around Highland Park’s downtown area and recovered “evidence of a firearm,” a statement from city officials said.

Officials say the suspected shooter opened fire at the parade at around 10:15 local time (15:15 GMT). The event was scheduled to include floats, marching bands, and community entertainment as the city near Chicago celebrated Independence Day.

The suspect is believed to have fired at members of the public from the rooftop of a nearby shop using what police described as a high-powered rifle.

Speaking at an earlier press conference, Mr Covelli said the suspected shooter was “armed and dangerous.”

He described him as a white male aged between 18 and 20 who appeared to have targeted the parade’s attendees at random.

“On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we’re instead mourning the tragic loss of life,” said city mayor Nancy Rotering.

Witnesses at the scene described the terrifying moment they heard multiple shots fired in quick succession.

Anand, who said he was less than 100m (328ft) from the shooter, told the BBC he initially thought he had heard a car backfiring before he saw others running and realised what was unfolding.

It was “the type of gun where it releases a lot of bullets in a very short amount of time. Incredibly loud. Then there’s complete silence,” he said.

Gun violence is very rare in this suburban area, he added: “I felt so safe here and this is very surreal. We’re hiding in a shelter now keeping safe, there’s people crying. It’s not a good feeling, at all.”

Image shows woman talking
Image caption, One witness described seeing injured people on the ground

Another witness told journalists she saw people who had been badly injured. 

“I saw someone on the ground with a girl crying next to him,” she said. “To my left, my mum and I saw at least another three people on the ground.” 

The mayor of Highland Park said the festival had been cancelled and asked people to avoid the downtown area.

Nearby suburbs have also gone on lockdown, with beaches evacuated and local parades and fireworks shows cancelled.

Gun violence in Chicago tends to rise over holiday weekends as the hot weather sends people outdoors. In 2021, more than 100 people were shot and 17 killed over the Fourth of July weekend in the city of Chicago.

The shooting comes just a month after the deadly shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York – and a week after the US Congress passed bipartisan legislation on gun control in America.

Police searching a car park
Image caption, Police are still searching for the suspect

For more on this story go to: BBC

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