A 22-year-old man has been taken into custody as a person of interest in the mass shooting that killed at least six people in Chicago. The shooting took place on Monday, July 4, during an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, an affluent community of 300,000 in the north of the city.
The shooter allegedly opened fire from the top of a building, just 10 minutes after the parade began. At least six people were killed in the attack, and another 26 were wounded. The ages of the injured range from eight to 85. One of the people killed was a Mexican citizen, according to Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director for North American affairs.
The parade was cancelled as authorities launched a wide-scale manhunt for the shooter, who was described as “armed and very dangerous.” The person of interest was identified as Robert E. Crimo III, a young man who fled the area in a gray utility vehicle.
At a press conference on Monday night, authorities said Crimo was spotted by a North Chicago officer who attempted a traffic stop. Crimo led officers on a brief chase before being stopped. “The subject was taken into custody without incident,” Highland Park police Chief Lou Jogmen said. “This doesn’t necessarily mean this is over, but we are certainly encouraged that we have a person of interest.” Lake County Sheriff Sgt. Christopher Covelli described the attack as “very random, very intentional.”
Witnesses at the parade described terrifying scenes as the shooter fired into the crowd. “All of a sudden, the crowd which was closer to the crime scene started running in a stampede fashion,” Miles Zaremski told NPR. “I see blood on the cement, and I see individuals in pools of blood.”
Another bystander, Elyssa Kaufman, who is a digital producer at CBS Chicago, said her family got on the ground and quickly ran to their car in a nearby parking garage. “Everyone was running, hiding and screaming,” she said. “It was extremely terrifying. It was very scary. We are very fortunate, we got out very quickly.”
The crowd fled the shooting, leaving behind folding chairs, parasols and abandoned baby strollers. The scene resembled a war zone, one witness told local radio station WBBM. The police immediately went to the scene, equipped with a K9 unit, to search for the gunman. At the site, they found a rifle and ammunition.
The shooting comes in the wake of the massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. The recent spate of killings has reignited debate on gun control in the United States. In the wake of the tragedies, the US passed a bipartisan gun legislation that imposes tougher checks on young buyers and encourages states to remove guns from people considered a threat. The US Supreme Court, however, recently upheld the rights of gun owners to carry a loaded weapon in public.
Gun violence often spikes in the summer months. In Chicago, nine people died from gunshot wounds during the July 4 long holiday weekend, and 48 more were injured in shootings. Last year, in the same period, 19 people were killed and more than 100 wounded as a result of gun violence. An estimated 40,000 people die from gun violence in the US every year, including suicide victims.