At least six people are confirmed dead and 20 more injured* in a shooting on the morning of July 4 in Highland Park, Illinois, during an Independence Day parade. Police detained a man in his early 20s in relation to the crime later the same day. Although gun control legislation recently passed Congress with bipartisan support, shooting incidents occur one after another in the U.S. and the problem has again come to the forefront of public concern.
According to authorities, the shooter, identified as Robert Crimo III, climbed onto the roof of a nearby building and shot indiscriminately into the crowd with a high-performance rifle. Police discovered him approximately five miles away from the scene of the crime, where he was then arrested. Authorities believe he acted alone.
In an interview, doctors verified that a local hospital had admitted 26 patients ranging in age from 8 to 86, including as many as five children. Of those 26 patients, 25 sustained gun-related injuries and 19 have already been sent home. Others have been transferred to another hospital to continue treatment.
Crimo lives in an apartment next to his father’s house in a nearby town and worked at a chain restaurant before the pandemic but is currently unemployed. His uncle said in an interview with CNN that that he had never shown an inclination to violence or any tendency toward politics. “He’s usually on his own. He’s a lonely, quiet person.” The uncle says that nothing seemed out of the ordinary the last time he saw him, on July 3.
According to American media, Crimo posted disturbing depictions and illustrations of mass shootings on social media. Along with the photos and video, Crimo’s narration says, “my thought is unnecessary. I know what I have to do. Everything has led up to this.”
Numerous events, including fireworks, parades and concerts, were planned in various places for the celebration of Independence Day. At least 311 mass shootings have occurred this year in the United States as of July 5, according to CNN.
The U.S. Senate passed a bill with bipartisan support at the end of June, which was aimed at strengthening gun control, including enhanced background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21. This is the first major piece of legislation related to gun control in 30 years, but the Democratic Party compromised on some issues in order to see it pass through Congress, such as an outright ban on assault rifles.
Joe Biden said in a statement responding to the shooting in Highland Park that the bill “includes actions that will save lives. But there is much more work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence.”
J.B. Pritzker, the Democratic governor of Illinois, said in a speech that “it is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague. A day dedicated to freedom has put into stark relief the one freedom we as a nation refuse to uphold: the freedom of our fellow citizens to live without the daily fear of gun violence.” Dick Durbin, a Democratic senator from Illinois, also supported this, saying, “There is no reason for a person to own a military assault weapon. It has no value for hunting, or sports or even self-defense,” and indicated his support for stronger gun control.
*Editor’s Note: The most recent update puts the death toll at seven, with at least 47 injured.