A gunman on a rooftop opened fire on an Independence Day parade in Chicago on Monday, killing at least six people, wounding at least 30 and sending hundreds of marchers, parents with strollers and children on bicycles fleeing in terror, police said.
Authorities said a man named as a person of interest in the shooting was taken into police custody on Monday evening after an hours-long manhunt in and around Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on Chicago's north shore.
The July 4 shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months.
"It definitely hits a lot harder when it's not only your hometown but it's also right in front of you," resident Ron Tuazon said and a friend returned to the parade route Monday evening to retrieve chairs, blankets and a child's bike that he and his family abandoned when the shooting began.
"It's commonplace now," Mr Tuazon said of what he called yet another American atrocity. "We don't blink anymore. Until laws change, it's going to be more of the same."
The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had staked out prime viewing points early in the day for the annual celebration. Dozens of fired bullets sent hundreds of parade-goers - some visibly bloodied - fleeing.
They left a trail of abandoned items that showed everyday life suddenly, violently disrupted: A half-eaten bag of potato chips; a box of chocolate cookies spilled onto the grass; a child's Chicago Cubs cap.
"There's no safe place," said Highland Park resident Barbara Harte, 73, who had stayed away from the parade fearing a mass shooting, but later ventured from her home.
Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said a police officer pulled over 21-year-old Robert E. Crimo III about five miles north of the shooting scene, several hours after police released the man's photo and an image of his silver Honda Fit, and warned the public that he was likely armed and dangerous.
Police declined to immediately identify Crimo as a suspect but said identifying him as a person of interest, sharing his name and other information publicly was a serious step.
In one animated video since taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in darkness” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on the ground and another figure with hands up in the distance.
A later frame shows a close-up of a chest with blood pouring out and another of police cars arriving as the shooter holds his hands up. In another video, in which Crimo appears in a classroom wearing a black bicycle helmet, he says he is “like a sleepwalker. I know what I have to do,” then adds, Everything has led up to this.
Nothing can stop me, even myself.” Crimo’s father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Highland Park in 2019, calling himself “a person for the people.”
Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said at a news conference "several of the deceased victims" died at the scene and one was taken to a hospital and died there. Police have not released details about the victims or wounded.
The shooter opened fire around 10.15 a.m, when the parade was about three-quarters through, authorities said.
Highland Park Police Commander Chris O'Neill, the incident commander on scene, said the gunman apparently used a "high-powered rifle" to fire from a spot atop a commercial building where he was "very difficult to see." He said the rifle was recovered at the scene. Police also found a ladder attached to the building.
President Joe Biden on Monday said he and first lady Jill Biden were "shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day."