Six people are dead and dozens injured in a mass shooting at a 4th of July parade in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Highland Park on Monday, authorities said.
Police said the gunman, who was still on the loose, randomly opened fire with a “high-powered rifle” from the roof of a building overlooking the parade route shortly after 10 a.m.
The shooter, who police warned is still “armed and dangerous”, is described as a white male with long dark hair and is aged 18 to 20 years. He was wearing a blue or white t-shirt, police said.
One witness told WGN TV that he saw the shooter as the gunfire erupted, saying “he was very military-style, methodical in the way he was crouched and shooting.”
Other witnesses, including some who initially confused the gunshots for Independence Day fireworks, told the Chicago Sun-Times they counted at least 20 shots being fired.
“I heard 20 to 25 shots, which were in rapid succession. So it couldn’t have been just a handgun or a shotgun,” local resident Miles Zaremski said.
The rifle was recovered from the rooftop where the gunman opened fire from, cops said, adding he was “discreet and difficult to see” at the time.
Police were urging locals to shelter in place as authorities continued the hunt for the suspect.
Footage from the scene showed hundreds of parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fleeing the parade route as the gunshots rang out just 10 minutes after the parade began.
Chairs, baby strollers, children’s bikes and blankets were among the items left behind as people fled.
“This morning at 10.14, our community was terrorized by an act of violence that has shaken us to our core,” Mayor Nancy Rotering said at the news conference.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims at this devastating time. On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we are instead mourning the tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us.”
Witnesses described seeing multiple bloodied bodies covered in blankets on the ground immediately after the shooting erupted.
Gina Troiani said she was standing at the beginning of the parade route with her 5-year-old son and his daycare class when she heard a loud sound she initially thought was fireworks — until someone started yelling about a gunman.
“We just start running in the opposite direction,” she said.
“It was just sort of chaos,” Troiani added. “There were people that got separated from their families, looking for them. Others just dropped their wagons, grabbed their kids and started running.”
Debbie Glickman, a local resident, said she was on a parade float when she saw people running fleeing.
“People started saying ‘There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter, there a shooter,’” Glickman said. “So we just ran. We just ran. It’s like mass chaos down there.”
She added, “I’m so freaked out … It’s just so sad.”
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter it is assisting Highland Park Police “with a shooting in the area of the Independence Day parade route.”
“STAY OUT OF THE AREA – allow law-enforcement and first responders to do their work,” the sheriff’s office tweeted.
Illinois Rep. Bob Morgan tweeted that he was at the parade and there were “multiple injuries.”
Rep. Brad Schneider, whose district includes Highland Park, said he and his team had been gathering at the start of the parade route when the shooting unfolded.
“Hearing of loss of life and others injured. My condolences to the family and loved ones; my prayers for the injured and for my community,” Schneider tweeted. “Enough is enough!”
With Post wires
This is a developing story. Check back soon for updates.