At least 6 dead in shooting at July 4 parade near Chicago

At least 6 dead in shooting at July 4 parade near Chicago

Officials in US city of Highland Park say six are dead, 24 hospitalised after gunfire erupts at Independence Day event.

 At least six people have been killed and two dozen others injured in a shooting at an Independence Day parade in a Chicago suburb, officials in the US city of Highland Park said, as authorities continue to search for the suspect.

Officials told a news conference on Monday afternoon that six people were killed and 24 taken to hospital, and that a rifle was recovered from the scene.

“Our community was terrorised by an act of violence that has shaken us to our core. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims during this devastating time,” Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering told reporters.

The city’s police commander Chris O’Neill, the incident commander on the scene, urged people to shelter in place as authorities search for the suspect, described as a white male wearing a white or blue T-shirt and believed to be about 18 to 20 years old.

Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli also said at the news conference that the gunman apparently opened fire on parade-goers from a rooftop using the rifle that was recovered.

“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,” the city said on its website.

The shooting comes as the United States struggles to stem a surge in gun violence and after a string of recent deadly incidents, including a massacre at a Texas primary school, spurred calls for stricter gun regulations.

Monday’s shooting in Highland Park, a community of about 30,000 residents some 40km (25 miles) north of Chicago, sent hundreds of parade attendees – some visibly bloodied – fleeing, with many leaving behind chairs, baby strollers and blankets.

The Chicago Sun-Times newspaper reported that the parade began around 10am local time (15:00 GMT) but was suddenly halted 10 minutes later after shots were fired. Police told people: “Everybody disperse, please. It is not safe to be here.”

Amarani Garcia, who was at the parade with her young daughter, told the local ABC affiliate she heard gunfire nearby, then a pause for what she suspected was reloading, and then more shots again.

There were “people screaming and running. It was just really traumatising”, Garcia said. “I was very terrified. I hid with my daughter actually in a little store. It just makes me feel like we’re not safe anymore.”

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 news agency. “So we just ran. We just ran. It’s like mass chaos down there.”

Enough is enough’

US Congressman Brad Schneider, whose district includes Highland Park, said he and his campaign team had been gathering at the start of the parade when the shooting started.

“Hearing of loss of life and others injured,” Schneider wrote on Twitter. “My condolences to the family and loved ones; my prayers for the injured and for my community; and my commitment to do everything I can to make our children, our towns, our nation safer. Enough is enough!”

have been in contact with Mayor Rotering and have offered our support, and the Chicago Police Department is providing assistance. We grieve with the families of the deceased and injured as well as the entire Highland Park community,” she tweeted.

Gun violence has been a problem across the US for decades, drawing condemnation and calls for gun control, especially in the aftermath of mass shootings.

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