Highland Park Fourth of July Parade Shooting: Remembering the Victims, Supporting Survivors and Ways to Help Stop Gun Violence

In a perverse turn of events, Highland Park’s commemoration of Independence Day on Monday was shrouded by the horror of yet another American mass shooting — the 306th fatal shooting to take place in the country since the beginning of 2022. What had begun as an annual Fourth of July parade soon devolved into chaos as shots rang out in the suburb nearly 30 miles north of Chicago. The tragedy resulted in seven fatalities and 38 bystanders sustained injuries and were escorted to nearby hospitals.

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The gunman — since identified as Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III — was taken into custody Monday evening around 7:30pm in Lake Forest by Lake County police after an hours-long manhunt that left the community on edge. The hunt ended that evening after Crimo — who had disguised himself in “women’s clothes” to conceal himself and his identifying tattoos — was pulled over by a Highland Park police officer after fleeing the scene. An additional rifle was then located in the car.

Significant to this scenario, local officials confirmed at a July 5 press conference that Crimo’s plans were premeditated — even having been planned weeks ahead of time — and were carried out with the use of an assault rifle, which he legally obtained in Illinois.

Crimo’s parents released a statement Tuesday evening on Twitter through their lawyer, Steve Greenberg: “We are all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and this is a terrible tragedy for many families, the victims, the paradegoers, the community, and our own. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to everybody.”

While the Highland Park community reels in the wake of the tragedy, the country at large is mourning the latest gun violence-related devastation — only mere days after the Supreme Court doubled down yet again on scaling back gun regulations with a ruling that ensures “Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense,” according to the Associated Press.

While the Second Amendment, for many, is synonymous with freedom in the United States, for many others, increasing rights for guns — as opposed to lessening rights for humans, as in the SCOTUS overturn of Roe v. Wade — stimulates a feeling that public safety is shrinking in direct correlation.

“We’ve lost these freedoms: our freedom to send our children to schools free of threats of mass shootings and unburdened by active-shooter drills (Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde); freedom to go to a grocery store (Buffalo); freedom to attend a neighborhood 4th of July parade (Highland Park); freedom to go to a theater (Aurora, Colorado); freedom to attend the synagogue or church of our choice (Emmanuel AME Church, Charleston; Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh); freedom to attend a country music festival (Las Vegas, Nevada); freedom to attend a night club (Orlando); freedom to attend college (Virginia Tech); and freedom to shop at a Walmart (El Paso, Texas). … So this one freedom—the ability to own and carry guns—has come to outweigh all of these fundamental rights. We no longer have the right to feel safe—anywhere. And for what?” said Jim Robenalt, author of historical and socio-political nonfiction books, such as January 1973, Watergate, Roe v Wade, Vietnam, and the Month That Changed America Forever. 

In direct response to the horrors of the weekend, national and local organizations have already begun signaling how the public might support the people of Highland Park, a quiet suburb previously considered a safe, family-focused community where tragic events like this are unfathomable.

Chicago expert Geoffrey Baer, in a 2012 article about “What Makes a Great Neighborhood,” wrote that “a great neighborhood is hard to define, and wonderful to find.”

“I rode my bike or walked everywhere; including the library, Gsell Pharmacy and Lang’s Shoes in Highland Park, and Toy Castle and Dick Longtin Sports Huddle in Deerfield,” he said.

How to Help

At time of publication, we currently know the identities of six of the seven victims. Irina and Kevin McCarthy, the parents of the 2-year-old who was cared for by strangers while waiting to be reunited with his parents, were killed.

Jacki Sundheim, a former preschool teacher and staff member of North Shore Congregation Israel (NSCI) was remembered in a statement. “Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all, from her early days teaching at the Gates of Learning Preschool to guiding innumerable among us through life’s moments of joy and sorrow as our Events and B’nei Mitzvah Coordinator — all of this with tireless dedication,” NSCI wrote.

Support for victims:

  • Donations from this GoFundMe will “go towards funeral costs, medical bills, and mental health support. Highland Park City Council, Mayor Rotering and the Human Relations Committee will be involved in distributing funds.”
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will support the various members of the Kolpack and Joyce families and their medical expenses.
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will help “cover all medical expenses and post care needed” for Alan Castillo.
  • Donations from this GoFundMe will support Aiden McCarthy, the child of victims Kevin and Irina McCarthy, and his family.

Additional GoFundMe drives, MealTrain links, and more can be found in this Highland Park Community Resource list that is updated regularly.

Support for First Responders:

The American Red Cross of Illinois is on the scene supporting first responders and working with emergency agencies to assess the needs of those most impacted in the community. Red Cross disaster mental health workers are also out in the community to help with coping skills, both short and long-term.

Donate to their cause on the American Red Cross of Illinois’ website.

Resources for the Highland Park community:

More resources collected by the federal government’s Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs can be found on the Chicago Sun Times’ website.

Ways to help officials take action against gun violence and put common sense gun laws in place:

  • Here’s what to know about the best ways to tell Congress gun laws need to change.
  • The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence suggests contacting Senator Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader and demand that he brings Congress back from summer recess to act. Text “EMERGENCY” to 877-877 to be connected to his office.
  • Giffords will patch you through to your senators directly and you can use their calling script to make your voice heard.
  • Here’s an easy way to reach your officials using a simple online form.
  • Every Town for Gun Safety represents more than 4 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and everyday Americans who have come together to make their own communities safer by fighting for the changes that will save lives.
  • Donate and support The Marshall Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system.
  • Donate and support Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), convened by Metropolitan Family Services, a framework that provides a comprehensive, long-term approach to reducing violence and gang activity.
  • Donate to READI CHICAGO,  an innovative response to gun violence in Chicago.
  • Donate to Chicago CRED,  a multifaceted approach to reducing gun violence.

Talking to kids

The Chicago Tribune has shared guidance and expert tips to help parents talk to kids about the Fourth of July shooting.

More from Better:

Margaret Smith is a Chicago-based writer and editor with a passion for socio-political storytelling about their community. They are a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.

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