HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) — At least five people are dead and 19 were taken to hospitals after a shooting at a July Fourth parade in a Chicago suburb, and officers are searching for a suspect, police said Monday.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the parade began around 10 a.m. but it was suddenly halted 10 minutes later after shots were fired. A Sun-Times reporter saw blankets placed over three bloodied bodies. Several witnesses told the newspaper that they heard gunfire.
Hundreds of parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fled the parade route, leaving behind chairs, baby strollers and blankets.
Police told people: “Everybody disperse, please. It is not safe to be here.”
Highland Park Police said in a statement early Monday afternoon that five people had been killed and 19 people were taken to hospitals. It was unclear if the five dead were among the 19 hospitalized.
The police said authorities are still searching for the suspect.
Video shot by a Sun-Times journalist after the gunfire rang out shows a band on a float continuing to play as people run past, screaming. A photo posted to social media appeared to show pools of blood near upturned chairs in downtown Highland Park.
Gina Troiani and her son were lined up with his daycare class ready to walk onto the parade route when she heard a loud sound that she believed was fireworks — until she heard people yell about a shooter.
“We just start running in the opposite direction,” she told The Associated Press.
Her 5-year-old son was riding his bike decorated with red and blue curled ribbons. He and other children in the group held small American flags. The city said on it’s website that the festivities were to include a children’s bike and pet parade.
Troiani said she pushed her son’s bike, running through the neighborhood to get back to their car.