HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – The man accused of fatally shooting seven people and wounding dozens more at a Fourth of July parade legally purchased the rifle used in the attack in Illinois within the past year despite ominous run-ins with police in 2019.
Lake County Major Crime Task Force said the 21-year-old suspect, who was arrested late Monday, used a rifle “similar to an AR-15” to spray more than 70 rounds from a rooftop. The suspect had purchased five firearms, including one rifle found at the scene, one found in his car and other weapons seized from his father’s home.
Illinois state police, who issue gun owners’ licenses, said the gunman applied for a license in December 2019, when he was 19. His father sponsored his application. At the time “there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger” and deny the application, state police said in a statement.
Yet the suspect was the subject of two police visits in the months before the application was sought. In September 2019 he threatened “to kill everyone” in the house, and police confiscated 16 knives, a dagger and a sword. Five months earlier, police responded to a reported suicide attempt.
►Prosecutors charged the suspect with seven counts of first-degree murder Tuesday and said more charges could follow. Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said the suspect faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted.
►Vice President Kamala Harris visited the shooting site late Tuesday. “The whole nation should understand and have a level of empathy to understand that this can happen anywhere, in any peace-loving community,” she said. “And we should stand together.”
►The suspect had been asked to leave a synagogue near the shooting site in April, according to Rabbi Yosef Schanowitz, co-director of the North Suburban Lubavitch Chabad – Central Avenue Synagogue. Schanowitz declined to provide details.
►Crosses with the names of the seven victims – one left as a blank space pending release of name of the seventh victim – stood outside the Highland Park Presbyterian Church, where messages written in colorful chalk on the sidewalk called for “hope,” “peace ” and love.”
Benny Martinez watched in horror from her lawn as screaming parade-goers came streaming down the hill, fleeing a gunman who opened fire on her beloved small-town. Her coworker Olivia Rodriguez, 60, was at work and watching the parade when she heard shots from what sounded like a “powerful gun,” she said. The two women told USA TODAY they each moved from Mexico to the United States more than two decades ago in pursuit of the American dream. Hours after a man fired into the parade crowd from a rooftop, killing seven people and injuring more than 30, they reflected on their experience – and what it means to live in America today. Read more here.
“I worry about my kids,” Martinez said Tuesday. “It’s not safe anymore.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism