Mayhem in Liberal Cities – 7 Dead, 30 Hurt in Illinois Massacre - The Jewish Voice
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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Mayhem in Liberal Cities – 7 Dead, 30 Hurt in Illinois Massacre

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Edited by: Fern Sidman

The gunman who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago fired more than 70 rounds with an AR-15-style gun that killed at least six people, then evaded initial capture by dressing as a woman and blending into the fleeing crowd, police said Tuesday , as was reported by the AP

The AP reported that a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force told a news conference that the suspected shooter, who was arrested late Monday, used a high-powered rifle “similar to an AR-15” to spray bullets from atop a commercial building into a crowd that had gathered for the parade in Highland Park, a close-knit community on the shores of Lake Michigan that has long drawn the rich and sometimes famous.

More than 30 people were wounded in the attack, which task force spokesman Christopher Covelli said the shooter planned for several weeks.

According to reports, Robert “Bobby” Crimo III allegedly opened fire with a high-powered rifle from a rooftop, accessed with a ladder attached to the side of the building, sending shots down into the parade.

Brooke and Matt Strauss, who were married Sunday, pause after leaving their wedding bouquets in downtown Highland Park, Ill., near the scene of Monday’s mass shooting Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in Highland Park, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hours later, a North Chicago police officer chased down a vehicle matching the description of the car driven by the suspect. After the short chase, Crimo surrendered to officers over eight hours after the shooting.

Officials said that police had earlier surrounded Crimo’s family home in Highwood, north of Highland Park, where Crimo lived with his father and uncle, as part of their search for the suspect.

Authorities initially said Crimo, whose father once ran for mayor of Highland Park, was 22, but an FBI bulletin and Crimo’s social media said he was 21.

Investigators who have interrogated the suspect and reviewed his social media posts have not determined a motive for the attack or found any indication that he targeted anyone by race, religion or other protected status, Covelli said, according to the AP report.

Authorities have not filed criminal charges.

Earlier in the day, FBI agents peeked into trash cans and under picnic blankets as they searched for more evidence at the site where the assailant opened fire. The AP reported that the shots were initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of revelers fled in terror.

A day later, baby strollers, lawn chairs and other items left behind by panicked parade goers remained inside a wide police perimeter. Outside the police tape, some residents drove up to collect blankets and chairs they abandoned, according to the AP report.

David Shapiro, 47, said the spray of gunfire quickly turned the parade into “chaos,” as was reported by the AP.

“People didn’t know right away where the gunfire was coming from, whether the gunman was in front or behind you chasing you,” he said Tuesday as he retrieved a stroller and lawn chairs.

The shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. The AP reported that this time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find cause to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.

“It definitely hits a lot harder when it’s not only your hometown but it’s also right in front of you,” resident Ron Tuazon told the AP as he and a friend returned to the parade route Monday evening to retrieve chairs, blankets and a child’s bike that his family abandoned when the shooting began.

“It’s commonplace now,” Tuazon said. “We don’t blink any more. Until laws change, it’s going to be more of the same.”

Highland Park Police Chief Louis Jogmen and Mayor Nancy Rotering look on as Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli, of the Lake County sheriff’s office and the Lake County major crimes task force, speaks to the media during a news conference outside the Highland Park Police Department in downtown Highland Park, Ill., the day after a deadly mass shooting on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Police say the gunman who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago fired more than 70 rounds with an AR-15-style gun. (Ashlee Rezin /Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

INN reported that President Biden responded to Monday’s Highland Park, Illinois 4th of July mass shooting during Monday remarks on Independence Day.

“Each day we’re reminded there’s nothing guaranteed about our democracy, nothing guaranteed about our way of life. We have to fight for it, defend it, and earn it by voting,” Biden said. “This day reminds us of what brought us together long ago, of what binds us still, and at our best what we strive for. It’s ‘We the people.’ Not a hollow phrase in America.”

Biden added that it was the job of Americans to ensure the “idea of America… shines like the sun to light up the future of our world.”

INN also reported that earlier in the day, the president released the following statement shortly after the shooting occurred:

“Jill and I are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day. As always, we are grateful for the first responders and law enforcement on the scene. 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, who remains at large at this time.

Members of the community should follow guidance from leadership on the ground, and I will monitor closely as we learn more about those whose lives have been lost and pray for those who are in the hospital with grievous injuries.”

INN reported that Biden noted that he “recently signed the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost thirty years into law, which includes actions that will save lives. But there is much more work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence.”

The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had staked out prime viewing points early in the day.

The AP reported that among the victims of the massacre was Nicolas Toledo, who was visiting his family in Illinois from Mexico. He was shot and died at the scene, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Also killed was Jacki Sundheim, a lifelong congregant and “beloved” staff member at nearby North Shore Congregation Israel, which announced her death on its website.

INN reported that Sundheim had spent decades on the staff at North Shore Congregation Israel, teaching at the congregation’s preschool and later coordinating events, “all of this with tireless dedication,” the congregation said in its statement announcing her death.

Both Toledo and Sundheim were Jewish.

The synagogue said in a statement: “There are no words sufficient to express the depth of our grief for Jacki’s death and sympathy for her family and loved ones. We know you join us in the deepest prayer that Jacki’s soul will be bound up in the shelter of G-d’s wings and her family will somehow find comfort and consolation amidst this boundless grief.”

The statement added: “Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all.”

Sundheim left behind a husband and daughter, as was reported by Israel National News.

Menachem Slavaticki, rabbi of the Israeli community in Chicago, told Channel 12 News in Israel about how the community is dealing with the massacre, as was reported by INN. “Everyone is really shocked by the incident, it happened in a prestigious area, which is always very calm and safe. People always turn to us with fear and worry, and we are here for them – to strengthen and encourage them. We turn again to all Israelis in the Chicago area: Do not hesitate to call at any time and with any request, we are by your side. We are confident that nothing will break our spirits and we will emerge stronger from it, “ he said, according to the INN report.

Members of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team Unit investigate in downtown Highland Park, Ill., the day after a deadly mass shooting on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Police say the gunman who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago fired more than 70 rounds with an AR-15-style gun. (Ashlee Rezin /Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

World Israel News reported that the other Jewish victim, 76-year-old Nicolas Toledo was sitting along the parade route in his wheelchair when he was shot at least three times. His son and his granddaughter’s boyfriend were also shot.

Mr. Toledo’s granddaughter Xochil said she remembers looking over at her grandfather, who was in his late 70s, as a band passed them, as was reported by the AP.

“He was so happy,” she said. “Happy to be living in the moment.”

Xochil Toledo said her father tried to shield her grandfather and was shot in the arm. Her boyfriend also was shot in the back and taken to a hospital, according to the AP report.

WIN reported that NorthShore University Health Center received 26 patients after the attack. All but one had gunshot wounds, said Dr. Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness. Their ages ranged from 8 to 85, and Temple estimated that four or five were children.

The Israeli Consulate in the Midwest has been in close contact with the local Jewish community, Israel’s foreign ministry said, as was reported by WIN.

“I am following the horrible news from Highland Park.” said Yinam Cohen, Israel’s Consul-General in Chicago tweeted on Monday, according to the WIN report. “Our hearts and prayers are with the members of the community. We thank the local authorities for their immediate response.”

World Israel News also reported that a local Chabad rabbi has said that he had kicked out the suspect behind the Highland Park shooting from his synagogue during the Jewish festival of Passover in April.

Rabbi Yosef Schanowitz, from The Central Avenue Synagogue, recognized the photo of 21-year-old Robert Crimo, the “person of interest” who was taken into police custody following an hours-long manhunt.

“We have an armed guard with a weapon sitting at the entrance, and I was not worried that he would continue into the synagogue hall,” Schanowitz was quoted by the Israel National News website as saying.

“But I went to him and demanded that he leave, because I saw that he was not from our community,” Schanowitz said of the tattooed suspect, as was reported by WIN.

Schanowitz said that there were other members of the Jewish community who were wounded in the shooting and are located in different hospitals. He spent hours in emergency room trying to comfort the injured while reciting the Shema prayer, as was reported by WIN.

“We are trying to be with the families at this difficult time, and provide all possible assistance,” he said.

WIN reported that he stressed that it was incumbent on all synagogues and Chabad houses “to put a first-rate, armed guard in the doorway to prevent more tragedy.”

Schanowitz also provided shelter to four teenage boys who were manning a Chabad booth for laying tefillin.

The AP reported that in 2013, Highland Park officials approved a ban on assault weapons and ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds. A local doctor and the Illinois State Rifle Association quickly challenged the liberal suburb’s stance. The legal fight ended at the U.S. Supreme Court’s doorstep in 2015 when justices declined to hear the case and let the suburb’s restrictions remain in place.

Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting on social media dozens videos and songs, some ominous and violent, as was reported by the AP.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering walks away after speaking to the media during a news conference outside the Highland Park Police Department in downtown Highland Park, Ill., the day after a deadly mass shooting on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Police say the gunman who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago fired more than 70 rounds with an AR-15-style gun. (Ashlee Rezin /Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

In one animated video since taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in darkness” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on the ground and another figure with hands up in the distance.

Crimo’s father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, sought the mayor’s office in 2019, calling himself “a person for the people.”

The community of about 30,000 on Chicago’s affluent North Shore has mansions and sprawling lakeside estates and was once home to NBA legend Michael Jordan, as was reported by the AP.

Shapiro, the Highland Park resident who fled the parade with his family, said his 2-year-old son woke up screaming later that night.

“He is too young to understand what happened. But he knows something bad happened,” Shapiro said. “That’s chilling.”

Sources: AP, Israel National News (INN)
and World Israel News (WIN)

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