HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — The Highland Park community gathered for a vigil to honor the lives lost, those injured, and those forever changed by the tragic events of July 4.
Cardinal Blase Cupich on Tuesday led a prayer service for a community in mourning and traumatized.
“Instead of celebration of freedom and liberty, people were victimized by our nation’s enslavement to guns,” Cupich said.
Many in the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church crowd were at the Highland Park parade a day earlier, where seven people were killed and many more injured. Parade attendee Itzayala Gonzales said she and her daughter ran for cover.
“She just says to me, ‘why we run?’ and I say ‘it’s people, bad people behind us, we have to get out,’” Gonzales said.
Seven people — including Irina and Kevin McCarthy, parents to a 2-year-old boy — did not survive.
An hours-old GoFundMe has already raised more than a million dollars for their son Aiden, who was found alone amid the chaos.
A couple kept the boy safe and got him to police. The McCarthys’ neighbor, Adrienne Rosenblatt, flagged down the boys’ grandparents to let them know where to pick him up.
“They were just beyond, you know, when I showed them the picture of Aiden,” Rosenblatt said. “They were so grateful to me.”
The Chicago-Sun Times reports Aiden’s dad died while shielding him from the gunfire.
“It’s just sad. This poor little Aiden now, do you call him an orphan? Even though his grandparents will – well, they’ll have to put the house up, and it’s just a sad reflection. Just a sad reflection of what’s going on,” Rosenblatt told WGN News.
Among the dead are 63-year-old Jacki Sundheim, grandfather Nicolas Toledo, 64-year-old Katherine Goldstein and 88-year-old Stephen Straus.
A seventh victim has not yet been identified.
“I just hope that all the families know we stand with them and that they’re all in our prayers,” parade attendee Cayla Guarnizo said.