At least six people died in shootings at a National Day parade in the United States

A gunman opened fire with a powerful rifle in a town near Chicago on Monday, killing at least six people and spreading panic during a July 4th parade. The suspect eluded authorities for hours before being arrested in the evening.

The tragedy, in a country still reeling from a recent spate of deadly shootings, happened around 10:15 a.m. (3:15 p.m. GMT) in Highland Park, in the northern United States.

Five victims, all adults, died instantly and a sixth in hospital. At least 26 injured people, ranging in age from 8 to 85, were treated by emergency services, a hospital official said.

Hundreds of police officers remained on the job late that afternoon in the affluent town of 30,000 on the shores of Lake Michigan to find the perpetrator of the shooting, who acted from the roof of a store.

Police have identified a suspect, Robert, aka “Bobby”, Crimo, a 22-year-old white “local” man who was arrested by police Monday night. A Chicago musician of the same age, nicknamed “Awake the rapper,” has several pages by that name on the internet.

Celebrations were immediately suspended in several surrounding towns, which also closed their beaches and urged their population to exercise extreme caution pending his arrest.

Democratic President Joe Biden said he was “shocked” and vowed in a statement not to “give up the fight against the gun violence epidemic” in the wake of this new bloodbath.

“A Battlefield”

On this bank holiday Monday, early in the morning, hundreds of people, including many families with children, took their places on the sidewalks of Highland Park to witness the traditional American Independence Day parade, as it does in all of the United States.

A barrage of gunfire rang out as student bands marched through the streets. “We heard about 50 shots, we all thought they were fireworks,” a woman who witnessed the tragedy commented to CNN.

“At some point I saw a girl covered in blood, I had never seen that before,” she added, describing a “sea of ​​panic in which people fell one after the other.” She hid behind a trash can before being placed in a basement. As she left, she “discovered a battlefield. It was awful. »

Adrienne Drell was watching the marching band when a man sounded the alarm. “There was panic all over the city,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We are completely stunned. »

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering lamented “an act of violence that touches our hearts.” “As we gather to celebrate our freedom, we must mourn the tragic loss of life and overcome our terror,” she added at a news conference.

“Armed and Dangerous”

The suspect fired from the roof of a store that was accessible via a fire escape. “He was very reserved and difficult to see,” said county police spokesman Christopher Covelli.

A “powerful” rifle was quickly located by police, but the shooter, who is “regarded as armed and dangerous,” remains at large, added Chris O’Neill, the local police chief.

He has “long black hair, a short stature and a white or blue T-shirt,” he said, advising the public to stay under cover until he was arrested. Authorities suspect him of driving a gray Honda.

In images of the city broadcast by TV stations, we see police, including federal officers and others in military uniforms, driving through empty streets where the sidewalks are covered with camp chairs and strollers abandoned in a hurry.

The United States is still reeling from a series of shootings, including one on May 24 at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that killed 21 people, including 19 children.

The country is facing a rise in gun violence across the board, with more than 22,000 people killed since the beginning of the year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which includes suicides in its data.

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