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July 4 parade shooting: Person of interest found, taken into custody

ABC News logo ABC News 05/07/2022

A 22-year-old person of interest has been apprehended in connection with a mass shooting Monday at a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, police said.

Six people were killed and about 24 others were seriously hurt in the shooting, according to officials.

Police said they apprehended Robert "Bobby" Crimo III following a vehicular pursuit Monday evening after an hours-long manhunt.

Robert 'Bobby' Crimo III,a person of interest in the shooting at the 4th of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, is pictured in an undated photo released by law enforcement, July 4, 2022. © City of Highland Park Robert 'Bobby' Crimo III,a person of interest in the shooting at the 4th of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, is pictured in an undated photo released by law enforcement, July 4, 2022.

It appears the gunman fired from a roof where a high-powered rifle was recovered, police said.

Police are describing the shooting as a "random act of violence."

Law enforcement search in a building after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, a Chicago suburb on Monday, July 4, 2022. © Nam Y. Huh/AP Law enforcement search in a building after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, a Chicago suburb on Monday, July 4, 2022.

Shortly after the police released a photo of Crimo and his car, officers said a North Chicago police unit they spotted the person of interest in a vehicle matching the one they were looking for.

After a traffic stop, the driver fled and led police on a brief pursuit, authorities said. He was stopped at U.S. Highway 41 and Westleigh Road in Lake Forest, Illinois, where he surrendered, according to police.

Law enforcement takes a person of interest into custody after shootings during a parade in Highland Park suburb of Chicago, in Lake Forest, Ill., July 4, 2022. © Ryan Lerman Law enforcement takes a person of interest into custody after shootings during a parade in Highland Park suburb of Chicago, in Lake Forest, Ill., July 4, 2022.

Ryan Lerman, a delivery driver, was near the intersection and filmed the arrest as it took place. He told Chicago ABC station WLS that he immediately recognized the car from the police bulletins.

"Right away he was surrounded by the police," he told the station. "They came from either side of the highway to surround him."

The video showed armed officers approaching the car with their guns drawn and ordering the driver to get out. The driver was seen putting his hands in the air.

"It ended with him getting on his knees and getting arrested by cops," Lerman said. "It was surreal, I didn’t know what I was seeing."

Law enforcement examine a vehicle in connection with the pursuit of Bobby Crimo, the person of interest in the shootings at the parade in Highland Park, Ill., July 4, 2022. © WLS Law enforcement examine a vehicle in connection with the pursuit of Bobby Crimo, the person of interest in the shootings at the parade in Highland Park, Ill., July 4, 2022.

The arrest capped a frantic day that began with a popular parade in the neighborhood.

The parade was about three-quarters of the way through when the shooting broke out, authorities said. Revelers fled in panic, leaving behind empty strollers, overturned chairs and half-eaten sandwiches.

Police ran toward the shots but the gunman had already fled, Lake County Sheriff Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said at a news conference.

Chairs and blankets sit abandoned after a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed, according to authorities. © Jim Vondruska/Getty Images Chairs and blankets sit abandoned after a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed, according to authorities. Law enforcement search in a building after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, a Chicago suburb on Monday, July 4, 2022. © Nam Y. Huh/AP Law enforcement search in a building after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, a Chicago suburb on Monday, July 4, 2022.

Five people -- all adults -- died at the scene and a sixth victim died at a hospital, said Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek.

One victim has been identified by family members as 78-year-old Nicolas Toledo. His family told ABC News that Toledo moved to the U.S. from Morelos, Mexico, in the 1980s.

A Mexican national is also among the deceased, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

Nicolas Toledo, one of the victims in the shooting at the 4th of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, is pictured in an undated family photo. © Toledo Family Nicolas Toledo, one of the victims in the shooting at the 4th of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, is pictured in an undated family photo.

The NorthShore University Health System said it has a total of 31 patients; most suffered gunshot wounds and a few were hurt in the chaos. At least one child is critically injured, Highland Park Fire Chief Joe Schrage said.

When the gunfire erupted, parade-goer Zoe Nicole Pawelczak grabbed her dad and started running through the sea of people.

"I saw multiple people slaughtered," she told ABC News.

MORE: Highland Park parade shooting eyewitnesses recount scary scene

"Everybody is crying. We ended up making it behind a corner and we hid behind a dumpster. This man was there with his two very young children and he had put them in the dumpster for safety," she said.

Pawelczak said the man wanted to leave to find his other son, and asked her to watch the two children in the dumpster.

"So I watched his kids for him," she said. "They were like, 'What's going on?' And I was like, 'It's just fireworks, it's OK,' just trying to keep them calm."

First responders work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed, according to authorities. © Jim Vondruska/Getty Images First responders work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed, according to authorities.

Dr. David Baum was watching his grandson, daughter and son-in-law march in the parade when the gunfire began.

"Bodies were horribly, horribly, horribly injured from, you know, guns and bullets that were made for war -- not for parades," Baum said of some of the victims.

"The paramedics went quickly and assessed the damages -- saw bodies that were blown apart and put a blanket over them quickly. And then went on to try and help other people," he told ABC News. “These are injuries that nobody should have to see."

First responders work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed, according to authorities. © Jim Vondruska/Getty Images First responders work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed, according to authorities. MORE: America's gun violence problem by the numbers

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., who was at the parade, tweeted that he's committing himself "to do everything I can to make our children, our towns, our nation safer. Enough is enough!"

Police are asking anyone who was at the parade to review their videos and share them with authorities.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has agents on scene and is conducting an urgent trace on the recovered gun, according to a law enforcement source.

First responders work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed, according to authorities. © Jim Vondruska/Getty Images First responders work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed, according to authorities. MORE: Biden shares 'shock' at July 4th parade mass shooting: 'More work to do' to stop gun violence

The neighboring suburb of Evanston canceled its own Fourth of July parade in the wake of the shooting, Evanston police said.

President Joe Biden said in a statement that he "surged Federal law enforcement to assist in the urgent search for the shooter."

"Members of the community should follow guidance from leadership on the ground, and I will monitor closely as we learn more about those whose lives have been lost and pray for those who are in the hospital with grievous injuries," Biden said.

A police officer investigates the scene as he walks in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, Monday, July 4, 2022, where a mass shooting took place at a Highland Park Fourth of July parade. © Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE via Shutterstock A police officer investigates the scene as he walks in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, Monday, July 4, 2022, where a mass shooting took place at a Highland Park Fourth of July parade.

He noted that he recently signed into law the most significant gun control legislation in decades, adding, "But there is much more work to do, and I'm not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence."

Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement, "On what should be a celebratory day with family and friends, we are grieving the lives that were taken in another act of senseless gun violence."

"More should be done to address gun violence in our country," she said. "President Biden recently signed into law the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost 30 years -- and we will continue fighting to end this senseless violence."

Police tape hangs at corner of Central Avenue and Green Bay Rd., in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb, Monday, July 4, 2022, after a mass shooting at Highland Park Fourth of July parade. © Nam Y. Huh/AP Police tape hangs at corner of Central Avenue and Green Bay Rd., in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb, Monday, July 4, 2022, after a mass shooting at Highland Park Fourth of July parade. MORE: Biden signs bipartisan gun safety package into law

In an impassioned statement Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said, "There are no words for the kind of monster who lives in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community. There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams, their futures."

"Prayers alone will not put a stop to the terror of rampant gun violence in our country," the governor wrote. "We must -- and we will -- end this plague of gun violence."

Representatives of the gun reform group March For Our Lives, founded by survivors of the 2018 high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, said in a statement, "Just three weeks ago, young people organized a March For Our Lives in Highland Park, along with communities across the country."

"We are grieving for the horrific loss of life in Highland Park, and the carnage brought on by a high-powered rifle," they said. "We wish eternal peace for those who were murdered, and we will fight like hell for the living."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is among the leaders reacting to the nation's latest mass shooting, tweeting, "Not even a parade on the Fourth of July celebrating our nation’s independence is immune from our nation’s gun violence epidemic. Tomorrow, I will sign seven sweeping commonsense gun safety bills into law. We cannot wait."

The Chicago White Sox announced plans to hold a moment of silence before Monday night's game against the Minnesota Twins, and have canceled the postgame fireworks.

MORE: March For Our Lives recap: Frustrated Americans rally for gun reform across US

Law enforcement has long been concerned about gunmen firing from elevated positions, which police say can give them a strategic advantage.

The deadliest example of that is the 2017 Las Vegas massacre, during which the shooter took up a window position in the Mandalay Bay hotel. Fifty-nine people were killed in what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

In the wake of the Vegas massacre, law enforcement around the country placed a greater emphasis on securing elevated locations surrounding public events, but police have acknowledged how daunting a task it is to secure all such positions.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

ABC News' Josh Margolin, Alex Perez, Jack Date, Will McDuffie and Caroline Guthrie contributed to this report.

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