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Suspect in Highland Park shooting

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22-year-old arrested in shooting that left 6 dead, 26 injured during Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Ill

  • The celebration of the 4th of July, Independence Day, was once again stained with blood.

The traditional civic parade held in Highland Park, in the State of Illinois, was interrupted ten minutes after starting by a shooting that has caused at least six deaths, including a Mexican citizen, and 26 injured, ranging in age from 8 to 85 years, who have required hospitalization.

The sound of gunshots caused a stampede and the popular festive atmosphere turned into scenes of chaos and panic, while the immediate police intervention unleashed a wild manhunt that ended hours later with the arrest of the suspect, a 22-year-old white man. President Joe Biden has expressed his shock “at this senseless gun violence that has once again brought grief to the American citizenry on this Independence Day.”

Police searched for hours for a white male in his 20s who was “likely armed and very dangerous.” The suspect, identified as Robert E. Crimo, a local youth who fled in a gray utility vehicle, was apprehended late in the afternoon and taken to the city police station. According to the sheriff’s office, it was a “random” attack.

Robert E. Crimo III
Robert E. Crimo III

The police immediately went to the scene, equipped with a canine unit, to participate in the search for the perpetrator of the shooting, although at first they only found the weapon used, a rifle, and ammunition. The shooter, who allegedly fired from the roof of a building located on the parade route, stopped shooting as soon as the first officers arrived on the scene, and slipped away discreetly, without the police pursuit that combed the locality yielding results until many hours later. Both his age and the weapon used, a rifle, are reminiscent of the perpetrators of the latest mass shootings in the country, those in Buffalo (New York) and Uvalde (Texas), in mid and late May, respectively.

Gun violence tends to spike in the summer months, and the Fourth of July celebration is by no means immune to the spiral. In Chicago, nine people died from gunshot wounds over the long holiday weekend, out of a total of 57 people hit by gunfire. A minor balance, if compared to the victims registered last year in the same period, 19 dead and more than a hundred wounded, or the count of last weekend, six dead and 27 wounded.

An estimated 40,000 people are killed each year in the U.S. by gunfire, including suicide victims. That of gun control is the most divisive debate in a deeply frayed public opinion since Donald Trump’s passage through the White House, whose aftermath is still palpable, as evidenced by the report of the special commission that investigated the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, described as an “attempted coup d’état”. The powerful pro-gun lobby, which is aligned on the Republican side, therefore received as a blessing the Supreme Court ruling facilitating the carrying of guns in public, which the State of New York limited last Friday, in emergency legislative session.

The 4th of July long weekend, which also records one of the highest travel peaks of the year and which this time has been underlined by air traffic complications, with a multitude of cancelled flights, is a date marked in red on the police calendar, so that, in anticipation of an increase in events, the Chicago police superintendent had warned before the weekend of an extraordinary deployment of officers on the streets.

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