Six people were killed in a shooting at a July Fourth parade in a Chicago suburb, authorities said Monday according to the AFP news agency. The shooting in the city of Highland Park, located near Chicago, also left 24 people wounded, police and the local mayor said. Officials are on the lookout for the suspect, described as a white male wearing white or blue t-shirt, likely opened fire from a rooftop, police said.
The Incident commander on scene and Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill urged people to take shelter. Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said at a news conference that the gunman apparently opened fire on parade-goers from a rooftop using a rifle that was recovered at the scene.
Covelli said police believe there was only one shooter and warned that he should still be considered armed and dangerous.
‘Bloodied Bodies Covered With Blankets’
Witnesses had earlier described seeing bloodied bodies covered with blankets.
The parade began around 10 am but was halted 10 minutes later after shots were fired, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. Several witnesses told the newspaper that they heard gunfire.
Hundreds of parade-goers including some visibly bloodied fled the parade route, leaving behind chairs, baby strollers and blankets, reports said. “Everybody disburse, please. It is not safe to be here,” a police official was quoted as saying shortly after the firing.
“The Illinois State Police is currently assisting Highland Park PD with an active shoot situation that occurred at the Highland Park Parade,” the Midwestern state’s police force tweeted shortly after the incident was reported. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office, which is responsible for the area that includes Highland Park, also said it was assisting with “a shooting in the area of the Independence Day parade route.”
Video shot by a Sun-Times journalist after the shooting began, showed a band on a float continuing to play as people run past, screaming. A photo posted on social media appeared to show pools of blood near upturned chairs.
Debbie Glickman, a Highland Park resident told AP she was on a parade float with coworkers and the group was prepared to turn onto the main route when she saw people running away from the area. “People started saying there’s a shooter, there’s a shooter, there a shooter,” she said. “So we just ran. We just ran. Its like mass chaos down there.”
City leaders said on Twitter that the police are responding to an incident in downtown Highland Park. “Fourth Fest has been canceled. Please avoid downtown Highland Park. More information will be shared as it becomes available,” an alert said.
(With inputs from AFP and AP)