Police arrest gunman suspected of killing six at Chicago Independence Day parade

Police arrest gunman suspected of killing six at Chicago Independence Day parade
Robert Crimo, 22, was arrested by the police for allegedly killing 6 people and injuring dozens of others at a US Independence Day parade in a wealthy Chicago suburb on Monday.
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Police have arrested a 22-year-old man accused of shooting several people at Fourth of July parade [Getty]

Police arrested a suspect on Monday after a mass shooting left six dead at a US Independence Day parade in a wealthy Chicago suburb, casting a dark shadow over the country's most patriotic holiday.

The suspect, identified as Robert Crimo, 22, was taken into custody after a massive manhunt across the town of Highland Park in Illinois where, just hours before, a family-focused July 4 parade celebration had been turned into a scene of death and trauma.

Firing into the holiday crowd from a rooftop with a high-powered rifle, the gunman triggered scenes of total chaos as panicked onlookers ran for their lives, leaving behind a parade route strewn with chairs, abandoned balloons and personal belongings.

Emergency officials said around two dozen people, including children, were treated for gunshot injuries, with some in critical condition.

The Lake County sheriff's office said Crimo was "in custody." Earlier, police had warned that he was armed and "very dangerous." A Chicago musician of the same age and with the same name goes by the stage moniker "Awake the Rapper" online.

The shooting is part of a wave of gun violence plaguing the United States, where approximately 40,000 deaths a year are caused by firearms, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.

And it cast a pall over America's Independence Day, in which towns and cities across the country hold similar parades and people -- many dressed in variations on the US flag -- hold barbecues, attend sports events and gather for firework displays.

"We were getting ready to march down the street and then all the sudden waves of these people started running after, like running towards us. And right before that happened, we heard the pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, and I thought it was fireworks," Emily Prazak, who marched in the parade, told AFP.

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President Joe Biden voiced his shock and vowed to keep fighting "the epidemic of gun violence" sweeping the country.

"I'm not going to give up," he said.

Last week, Biden signed the first significant federal bill on gun safety in decades, just days after the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a fundamental right to carry a handgun in public.

The deeply divisive debate over gun control was reignited by two massacres in May that saw 10 Black supermarket shoppers gunned down in upstate New York and 21 people, mostly young children, slain at an elementary school in Texas.

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According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 309 mass shootings carried out in the US so far in 2022 - including at least three others on July 4, though without any fatalities.

"It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague," Illinois governor JB Pritzker told reporters Monday.

"A day dedicated to freedom has put into stark relief the one freedom we as a nation refuse to uphold - the freedom of our fellow citizens to live without the daily fear of gun violence."