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An FBI tactical team arrives at the scene after a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade route in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, the US, July 4 2022. Picture: MAX HERMAN/REUTERS
An FBI tactical team arrives at the scene after a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade route in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, the US, July 4 2022. Picture: MAX HERMAN/REUTERS

Chicago  — Six people were killed and at least two dozen injured when a man with a high-powered rifle opened fire from a rooftop at a Fourth of July parade in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Highland Park on Monday, turning a civic display of patriotism into a scene of panicked mayhem.

Officials told a news conference that six people were killed and 24 taken to hospital, and that a rifle was recovered from the scene. A hospital spokesperson reported 31 people were injured.

Police said they were searching for a white male about 18 to 20 years old and asked the public for tips and cellphone images and surveillance video to help find him.

“We are aggressively looking for the individual responsible,” sheriff's department spokesperson Christopher Covelli told journalists. “He could be in the city; he could be somewhere else.”

Children pause after hearing gunfire at a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, the US, July 4 2022 in this image from social media. Picture: GINA TROIANI-SOLORIO/REUTERS
Children pause after hearing gunfire at a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, the US, July 4 2022 in this image from social media. Picture: GINA TROIANI-SOLORIO/REUTERS

The shooting comes with gun violence fresh on the minds of many Americans, after a massacre on May 24 killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and the May 14 attack that killed 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

“Jill and I are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement. “I have spoken to governor Pritzker and Mayor Rotering, and have offered the full support of the Federal government to their communities. I also surged Federal law enforcement to assist in the urgent search for the shooter.”

Staff at NorthShore Highland Park Hospital in Highland Park were treating 26 people and five were transported to NorthShore Evanston Hospital, spokesperson Jim Anthony said.

“The vast majority suffered gunshot wounds. Remaining individuals sustained injuries as a result of chaos at the parade,” Anthony said.

Children waving American flags, riding tricycles or enjoying a ride in a wagon pulled by adults froze as people in the crowd screamed while gun shots rang out, according to a video posted on social media.

A police officer runs across a street after gunfire erupted at a Fourth of July parade route in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, the US, July 4 2022 in a screen shot taken from video. Picture: ABC/REUTERS
A police officer runs across a street after gunfire erupted at a Fourth of July parade route in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, the US, July 4 2022 in a screen shot taken from video. Picture: ABC/REUTERS

One cellphone video, seen but not verified by Reuters, recorded what sounded to be about 30 rapid shots, a pause, and then another roughly 30 shots. Between the two bursts, a woman can be heard saying from the side of the parade route: “My God, what happened?”

Witness 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 any more.”

Social media video showed a marching band in the parade suddenly breaking formation and running away, and other images of people leaving their belongings behind as they sought safety.

“Everyone was running, hiding and screaming,” said CBS 2 digital producer Elyssa Kaufman, who was at the scene, the channel’s website reported.

Highland Park’s population is 30,000 and nearly 90% white, according to the US Census Bureau. About a third of the population is Jewish, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The shooting is likely to rekindle the American debate about gun control, and whether stricter measure can prevent mass shootings that happen so frequently in the US.

“Grief will not bring the victims back, and prayers alone will not put a stop to the terror of rampant gun violence in our country,” Illinois governor JB Pritzker said. “I will stand firm with Illinoisans and Americans: we must — and we will — end this plague of gun violence.”

Update: July 4 2022
This story has been updated to reflect the new death toll from  Monday’s shooting. 

Reuters 

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