A dark national holiday. At least six dead and 24 injured in a shooting in the northern United States on Monday during an American Independence Day parade, according to local officials quoted by local media.
The shooter, suspected of having opened fire, is on the run and the festivities have been suspended in Highland Park, an affluent town north of Chicago, (Illinois) and in several surrounding towns, according to the police. A rifle was found, but the individual is still “considered armed and dangerous”, said the police, who called on the population to stay safe until his arrest.
“As we gathered to celebrate our freedom, we must mourn the tragic loss of life and overcome our terror,” city mayor Nancy Rotering said at a press conference. “At present, we know that at least six people have died” and “that 24 have been taken to hospital”, she added, calling on her fellow citizens to remain “in a state of alert but calm”.
Hundreds of officers were deployed to apprehend the suspect and come to the aid of the population. On images of the city broadcast on television channels, we see the police circulating in empty streets, where the sidewalks are covered with camping chairs abandoned in panic. The suspect has not been identified. He has “long black hair and a white or blue t-shirt,” local police chief Chris O’Neill said.
The shooting broke out as hundreds of people gathered to watch the traditional July 4 parade, which celebrates the declaration of independence of the United States in 1776. A witness, quoted by the local channel WGN, reported having saw a man armed with a rifle open fire in the direction of the public. “He was on the ground and was crawling in a methodical, almost military way,” commented this man named Michael. The crowd threw themselves to the ground before running away as pools of blood formed, he said.
Adrienne Drell was watching a high school marching band when a man sounded the alarm. “There was panic all over the city,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We are completely stunned. The parade was immediately suspended and festivities were canceled in several nearby towns.
The United States is still reeling from a series of shootings, including one in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, which left 21 people dead, including 19 children. The country is more generally facing an increase in gun violence with more than 22,000 people killed since the start of the year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which incorporates suicides into its data.