Law enforcement says a gunman was in a discreet position on a roof when he used a high-powered rifle to open fire on parade-goers in Highland Park, killing six and injuring over 30, before fleeing.
Highland Park Police Department Commander Chris O’Neill said the shooting occurred around 10:14 a.m. Monday near Second Street and Central Avenue in Highland Park.
An Independence Day parade was in progress on the street when police officers, who were standing by at the event, heard gunfire, O’Neill said.
Police attempted to locate the source of the shooting and found numerous people shot.
A coordinated response with the fire department was initiated and a police perimeter was set up, O’Neill said.
“Firearm evidence,” including a rifle, was located on a rooftop of a business and secured, he said.
O’Neill said the shooting was a random act of violence and an active search is still underway for the suspect.
The suspect is described as a male white, approximately 18-20 years old, smaller build, with long black hair and possibly a blue or white t-shirt. He is believed to have acted alone.
O’Neill said two dozen people were transported to area hospitals and six people have died.
NorthShore Highland Park Hospital said they are treating 26 people and five people have been transported to NorthShore Evanston Hospital.
Lake County Major Crime Task Force Spokesman Christopher Covelli said hospitals throughout Lake and Cook counties received patients from the incident, with conditions ranging from critical to serious.
The gunman has not been identified and Covelli said the shooting was “completely random.”
Law enforcement is “aggressively looking” for the suspect and anyone who took video or photos from the parade is asked to review them and send them to police.
Business owners in the area are also urged to review their security camera footage.
Covelli said initial indications show the suspect was “discreet” and hard to see on the roof of a business when he opened fire using a high-powered rifle.
Five victims died at the scene and the sixth deceased victim died at a hospital, Covelli said, adding it is a “very sad day.”
There were a number of “heroic actions” by members of the community, police and paramedics who rushed in immediately following the shooting to provide aid to the injured, Covelli added.
Residents have been urged to stay inside and call the police if they see anything as police continued their manhunt for the suspect into Monday afternoon.
Federal agencies, including the FBI, are on the scene actively assisting, Covelli said. SWAT teams are going door to door in the area.
Covelli said “hundreds” of law enforcement officers have swarmed the area.
Anyone with active information regarding suspicious activity should call 911.
Anyone with delayed information on the shooting or those who have video are urged to contact the FBI tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI, police officials said.
Numerous attendees who were attending the Fourth of July parade reported hearing gunfire and people began running for safety. Some people said the shots sounded like fireworks.
Some attendees said the gunman was on the roof of Uncle Dan’s Camping and Travel, 621 Central Avenue.
Even though a rifle was recovered by police, the suspect is still considered armed and dangerous, Covelli said.
The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) was activated to the second alarm level, bringing over a dozen ambulances and other fire department units to the scene.
The Lake County Coroner’s Office is working to identify the deceased victims, whose ages were not immediately known.
A family and friends reunification site has been set up at the Highland Park Police Department, 1677 Old Deerfield Road.
The Lake County Major Crime Task Force, Highland Park Police Department and FBI are leading the investigation into the incident.
City officials said all Fourth of July activities have been canceled and that people should avoid downtown Highland Park.
Those in the downtown area were urged to shelter in place, Highland Park Communications Manager Amanda Civitello said.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said in an alert that they were assisting Highland Park police with the shooting and asked everyone to avoid the area so law enforcement and first responders could work the scene.
The Illinois State Police said on Twitter that they were assisting with the “active shooter situation” in Highland Park.
Officials for the Village of Deerfield, which is next to Highland Park, said on social media that their Family Days activities had been cleared and their parade canceled due to the shooting in Highland Park.
Several other nearby communities have also canceled their Fourth of July activities.
“Today, I ask all Illinoisans to pray for the families who have been devastated by the evil unleashed this morning in Highland Park, for those who have lost loved ones and for those who have been injured. I also ask that we all pray for our first responders at all levels of government who are actively working to bring the suspect into custody, and whose bravery undoubtedly saved innocent lives on the scene,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said.
“There are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community. There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams, their futures. There are no words I can offer to lift the pain of those they leave behind,” Pritzker said.
“Please know that our state grieves with you, that MK and I grieve with you. But 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. I will stand firm with Illinoisans and Americans: we must – and we will – end this plague of gun violence,” he added.
“State police are on the scene and we have made all state resources available to the community. We will continue working with local officials to help those affected,” Pritzker said.
Congressman Brad Schneider said he and his campaign team were gathering at the start of the parade when the shooting started.
“My team and I are safe and secure,” Schneider said.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and in touch with the Mayor. 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; and my commitment to do everything I can to make our children, our towns, our nation safer. Enough is enough!” he added.