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Police arrest suspect after gunman kills six during US 4th of July parade

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Officers gather at the scene of the 4th of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois on July 4, 2022. – AFP Photo

HIGHLAND PARK, United States (July 5): Police arrested a suspect on Monday after a mass shooting left six dead during a United States Independence Day parade in an affluent Chicago suburb , casting 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 through the town of Highland Park in Illinois, where a gunman on the roof with a high-powered rifle transformed a family-oriented 4th of July parade celebration. in a scene of death and trauma.

Shooting into holiday crowds, the shooter sparked scenes of utter chaos as panicked onlookers ran for their lives, leaving behind a parade route littered with chairs, abandoned balloons and personal belongings.

Emergency officials said about two dozen people, including children, were treated for gunshot wounds, some in critical condition.

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

Earlier, police warned he was armed and “very dangerous”. A Chicago musician of the same age and name goes by the stage nickname “Awake the Rapper” online.

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

And it cast a veil over America’s Independence Day, in which cities and towns across the country hold similar parades and people – many dressed in variations on the American flag – hold demonstrations. barbecues, attend sporting events and gather for fireworks.

“We were getting ready to walk down the street and then all the sudden waves of these people started running after, like running towards us. And just before it happened, we heard pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, and I thought it was fireworks,” Emily Prazak, who participated in the parade.

– ‘Targeted’ viewers –

Don Johnson, who attended the parade, said he initially thought the shots were a car overturning.

“And finally I heard screams from a block away and people running and carrying their kids and everything, and we ran into the gas station, and we were there for three hours,” he said. he told AFP.

“I’ve seen scenes like this over and over again on TV and in different communities, and I 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 through.

“Looks like bystanders were targeted… So very random, very intentional and very sad,” said Christopher Covelli, spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.

Five of the six people killed, all adults, had died at the scene. The sixth was taken to hospital but succumbed to his injuries.

Dr Brigham Temple of Highland Park Hospital, where most of the victims were taken, said he had received 25 people with gunshot wounds aged between 8 and 85.

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

Police said the shooter used a “high-powered rifle” and “evidence of firearms” was located on the roof of a nearby business.

“Everything indicates that he was inconspicuous, he was very difficult to see,” Covelli said.

A Mexican was among the victims, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said.

“We stand with the Chicago community in their pain and sadness over this tragedy,” he tweeted.

– 309 mass shootings so far –

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

“I’m not going to give up,” he said.

Last week, Biden signed the first major federal gun safety bill in decades, just days after the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a basic right to carry a handgun in public. .

The deeply contentious gun control debate was reignited by two massacres in May that saw 10 black supermarket shoppers gunned down in upstate New York and 21 people, mostly young children, killed in an elementary school in Texas.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 309 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2022 – including at least three more on July 4, but with no deaths.

“It is devastating that a celebration of America has been torn apart by our uniquely American plague,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker told reporters on Monday.

“A day dedicated to freedom highlighted the one freedom that we as a nation refuse to defend – the freedom of our fellow citizens to live free from the daily fear of gun violence.” -AFP

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