Police arrest suspect in murder of six at US parade on July 4

Police arrested a suspect on Monday after a mass shooting that killed six people at a US July 4th (Independence Day) parade in an affluent Chicago suburb cast a shadow over the country’s most patriotic holiday.

Robert Crimo, 22, was identified as a “Person of Interest” and became the target of a massive manhunt in the city of Highland Park, Illinois, where a rooftop shooter with a high-powered rifle turned a family parade on July 4th. into a scene of death and injury.

By firing into the celebratory crowd, the shooter caused scenes of total chaos as panicked spectators rushed for their lives, leaving behind a July 4th parade littered with chairs, thrown balloons and personal items.

July 4th shooting in Chicago.
Items left at the site of a mass shooting along the Fourth of July parade route on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Emergency services officials said that about two dozen people, including children, received gunshot wounds, some of them in critical condition.

After a brief car chase, Crimo was taken into custody “without incident,” Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogman told reporters.

Police had previously warned that he was armed and “very dangerous.” The Chicago musician of the same age and the same name is known online by the stage name “Wake the Rapper”.

The shooting is part of a wave of gun violence sweeping the United States, where about 40,000 deaths per year are caused by gun violence, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.

And it has cast a shadow over America’s Independence Day, when cities across the country hold similar parades and people, many dressed in variations of the American flag, have barbecues, attend sporting events and gather for fireworks.

“We were going to march down the street, and then suddenly all these people ran after us in waves, as they run at us. And right before it happened, we heard pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, and I thought it was fireworks,” Emily Prazak, who participated in the parade, told AFP.

She added: “This is the day we celebrate our country. It’s also the day our freedom was stolen from us – because many of our residents here, even in this building, we’re all locked up.”

Spectators “targeted”

Don Johnson, who attended the July 4th parade, said he initially thought the shots were caused by a car kickback.

“And finally, I heard screams from the next block, people running, carrying their children and all that, and we ran to the gas station and we were there for three hours,” he told AFP.

“I saw scenes like this over and over again on TV and in different communities and didn’t think it would ever happen here,” he said.

Police officials said the shooting began at 10:14 a.m., when the parade was about three-quarters of the way across.

“It looks like the audience was the target. So, very accidental, very deliberate and very sad,” said Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli.

Five of the six dead, all adults, died at the scene. The sixth was taken to the hospital, but died there from his wounds.

Dr. Brigham Temple, from Highland Park Hospital, where most of the casualties were taken, said 25 people were admitted with gunshot wounds, ranging in age from eight to 85.

He said there were “four or five” children among them, and that 16 were later discharged.

Police said the shooter used a “powerful rifle” and “evidence of a firearm” was found on the roof of a nearby business.

“Everything indicates that he was careful, it was very difficult to see him,” Covelli said.

American media reported that Crimo’s online messages contained scenes of violence hinting at guns and shootings. His YouTube and other social media accounts were unavailable to view on Monday evening.

According to the Chicago Tribune, one YouTube video posted eight months ago contains images of a young man in a bedroom and classroom, as well as cartoons of a gunman and people being shot.

The voice-over says, “I just have to do it.”

He adds: “This is my destiny. Everything led to it. Nothing can stop me, not even myself,” the newspaper wrote.

309 mass shootings so far

President Joe Biden expressed his shock and vowed to continue fighting the “epidemic of gun violence” sweeping the country.

“I’m not going to give up,” he said.

Last week, Biden signed the first significant federal gun safety law in decades, just days after the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a fundamental right to carry a gun in public.

Deep divisions over gun control were rekindled by two massacres in May, when 10 black supermarket shoppers were gunned down in upstate New York and 21 people, mostly young children, were killed at an elementary school in Texas.

There were 309 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2022, including at least three others on July 4, albeit without casualties, according to the Archive of Gun Violence.

NOW READ: Another day, another school shooting in America