7th person dies after mass shooting at Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

The alleged gunman who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago fired more than 70 shots from an AR-15-style pistol that killed at least seven people, then evaded the first capture by dressing in disguise and blend in with the fleeing crowd, police said Tuesday. †

Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli told a news conference that the suspected gunman, who was arrested late Monday, used a high-powered rifle “similar to an AR-15” to fire bullets from a commercial building into a crowd gathered for a parade in Highland Park, Illinois, a close-knit community on the shores of Lake Michigan that has long attracted the rich and sometimes celebrities.

More than 30 people were injured in the attack, including one who died on Tuesday, Covelli said.

Police say the suspect then dropped the gun and escaped, blending into the crowd as if he were an “innocent bystander”, dressing up as a woman to hide his facial tattoos. He walked to his mother’s house and borrowed her car, police said.

Investigators who questioned the suspect and viewed his social media posts have not identified a motive for the attack, police said.

VIEW | Weapon was bought legally, police say:

Suspected gunman planned attack for weeks, police say

The suspected gunman spent weeks planning a mass shooting at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois, dressing up as a woman to avoid identification, police said Tuesday.

They also found no indication that the shooter had been targeted by anyone based on race, religion or other protected status.

The authorities have not filed any criminal charges.

Earlier in the day, FBI agents peeked into trash cans and under picnic blankets as they searched for more evidence where the attacker opened fire.

‘It is now commonplace’

The shots fired during the parade were initially mistaken for fireworks, before hundreds of panicked revelers fled in panic.

A day later, prams, lawn chairs and other items were left behind by panicked parade-goers within a wide police perimeter. Outside the police tape, some residents drove up to pick up blankets and chairs they had left behind.

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 zones in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find a reason to celebrate its founding and the ties that still hold it together.

“It definitely hits a lot harder when it’s not just your hometown, but it’s right in front of you,” said resident Ron Tuazon as he and a friend returned to the parade route Monday night to pick up chairs, blankets and a kid’s bike that he and abandoned his family when the shooting began.

“It’s commonplace now,” Tuazon said. “We’re not blinking anymore. Until the laws change, it’ll be more of the same.”

A man carries a car seat.
A couple recovers two car seats on Tuesday after they were abandoned near the shooting scene in a Chicago suburb of Highland Park. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune via AP)

A police officer detained Robert E. Crimo III, about five miles north of the shooting scene, hours after police released his photo and warned that he was likely armed and dangerous, Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said.

Authorities initially said Crimo, whose father was once mayor of Highland Park, was 22, but an FBI bulletin and Crimo’s social media said he was 21.

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered that US flags be flown at half-mast until Saturday as a “sign of respect to the victims of the senseless acts of gun violence on our Independence Day”.

Some victims identified

The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had set out prime vantage points early in the day for the annual celebration.

Among them was Nicolas Toledo, who visited his family in Illinois from Mexico. He was shot and died on the spot, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Also killed was Jacki Sundheim, a lifelong parishioner and “beloved” staff member at the nearby North Shore Congregation Israel, who announced her death on its website.

Police have not released any details about the victims. Lake County coroner Jennifer Banek said the five people killed during the parade were adults, but had no information about the sixth. Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director of North American affairs, said on Twitter that two Mexicans were also injured.

Dozens of bullets fired caused hundreds of parade-goers – some visibly bloodied – to flee. They left a trail of abandoned objects that showed daily life suddenly, violently disrupted: a box of chocolate chip cookies spilled on the grass; a Chicago Cubs cap for kids; strollers, some with American flags.

“There is no safe place,” said Barbara Harte, 73-year-old Highland Park resident who had stayed away from the parade for fear of a mass shooting but later ventured out of her home.

Dozens injured

NorthShore University Health Center received 26 patients after the attack. All but one had gunshot wounds, said Dr. Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness. Their ages ranged from eight to 85, and Temple estimated that there were four or five children.

There have been 15 shootings that killed four or more people since the beginning of the year, including those in Highland Park, according to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Mass Killing database.

Highland Park Police Chief Chris O’Neill said the gunman apparently fired from a roof where he was “very hard to see”. He said the gun was recovered at the scene. Police also found a ladder attached to the building.

Covelli said Crimo bought the gun legally in Illinois for the past year. Officials said a second rifle was found in the car when the suspect was apprehended.

Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, who posted dozens of videos and songs on social media, some of them ominous and violent.

In an animated video that has since been removed from YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in darkness,” while a drawing appears of a man aiming a gun, a body on the ground and another figure with hands in the distance.

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