CHICAGO — On an idyllic summer morning, from a rooftop high above the Highland Park Independence Day parade, a gunman aimed down at the floats and lawn chairs and strollers and opened fire.
Members of the high school marching band sprinted for their lives, still carrying their flutes and saxophones. Bystanders scooped up young children and fled. In all, six people were killed and some two dozen others were injured, either by rifle fire or in the stampede away from the scene. The victims ranged in age from 8 to 85.
It was the Fourth of July, and the affluent Chicago suburb of Highland Park became the latest American community to be terrorized by a mass shooting.
For hours after the attack, officers searched building by building near the parade route, which was littered with belongings abandoned in the chaos: A double stroller. Balloons. Bikes. Pacifiers. Sandals. A hat printed with stars and stripes.
After an hourslong manhunt, authorities arrested 22-year-old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III on Monday evening. North Chicago police spotted him and gave chase; he was ultimately arrested without incident in Lake Forest, according to the Highland Park police chief. He was returned to Highland Park as the investigation continued.
While police recovered a rifle from the scene, and federal authorities are performing a trace to try to determine its origin, the attacker was being considered armed and dangerous throughout the search, authorities said.
Howard Prager was playing his tuba aboard a float with six other musicians from the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, entertaining the crowd with freilach — a “joyous” type of Jewish music.
The piano player was the first to notice everyone scatter. Prager thought at first they had spotted a celebrity and were racing over. The band kept playing.
Then he saw the faces of the people running: “panic and scared mode.”
“I am shellshocked by the whole thing,” he said. “I don’t know what was in (the shooter’s) mind that he was so hateful that would cause this type of carnage.”