(Update 2: adds arrest of suspect, details, changes head and lede)
Washington, Jul 4 (EFE).- At least six people were killed and dozens seriously injured on Monday when a man opened fire from a rooftop on an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois.
After an hours-long manhunt, police arrested a 22-year-old man identified as Robert E. “Bobby” Crimo III. They did not give a possible motive.
On the roof from which the shooter fired, police said they found a “high-powered rifle” and a ladder attached to the building.
“This appears to be completely random,” said Lake County Sheriff Sgt. Christopher Covelli. “Very random, very intentional, very sad day.”
Five people died at the scene, all of them adults, while another person, whose age is unknown, died as they were transported to hospital, Lake County Medical Examiner Jennifer Banek said at a news conference.
Twenty five of the 26 people received by Highland Park Hospital had gunshot injuries and 19 were later discharged, NorthShore University Health System medical director Dr. Brigham Temple said, according to CNN. She added that two people were also received by Evanston Hospital, and that patients ranged from 8-85 years old.
Local media reported that Lake Forest Hospital also received patients.
Hours after the event, United States President Joe Biden expressed his shock at what he considered “senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day,” a festive public holiday celebrated with parades and barbecues.
“There is much more work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence,” he promised.
Biden said he had spoken on the phone with Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and Illinois Governor Jay Robert “J.B.” Pritzker.
“There are no words for the kind of monster that lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families and 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,” Pritzker said in a statement.
“While we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become our weekly – yes, weekly – American tradition,” he later added.
The first shots were heard around 10.15 am local time (15:15 GMT) when three-quarters of the parade participants had already completed their route, according to authorities.
Several witnesses believed the sound was fireworks, according to what they told the US media. Most of the testimonies described the shots as bursts, with short intervals of silence in which they believe the man was reloading his weapon.
One man told the Chicago Sun Times that he and his partner split up during the chaos, each taking one of their two children.
“I grabbed my son and tried to break into one of the local buildings, but I couldn’t,” the man told the newspaper. “The shooting stopped. I guess he was reloading. So I kept running and ran into an alley and put my son in a garbage dumpster so he could be safe.”
More witnesses told of the chaos of the moment, with people running in terror in all directions and leaving behind their belongings, from baby strollers to chairs and American flags, as seen strewn in the streets in videos posted on social media by parade attendees. EFE