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Six killed: US marks Independence Day with mass shooting

Police deploy after gunfire erupted at a Fourth of July parade route in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, US, July 4, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

A mass shooting during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, has left at least six people dead and three dozen hospitalized.

A hospital spokesperson on Monday put the number of injured people at 36. Highland Park is an upscale suburb less than 50 km outside of Chicago.

US police officials at a press conference described the suspected shooter, who was at large, as an "armed and dangerous" white male.

Lake County sheriff’s office deputy chief Christopher Covelli said police believe there was only one shooter who was aged between 18 to 20 years old.

Covelli described the mass shooting as an “active incident” and urged residents to stay away from the shooting scene.

Several witnesses were cited as saying they heard multiple shots fired. One witness said he counted more than 20 shots. 

Police have not released any details about the victims or wounded; however, they said an assault rifle was recovered from the rooftop where the shots came from.

The shooting disrupted the Independence Day parade hosted by Highland Park and the park district, which included floats, marching bands, novelty groups and community entries.

Highland Park’s mayor, Nancy Rotering, said the community had been “shaken to its core”.

“On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom we are instead mourning a tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us.”

However, mass shootings in the United State are so frequent that the general public seems to have become desensitized to the concept.

The Gun Violence Archive, GVA, which is an independent data collection organization, has documented 212 mass shootings that have occurred this year up to and including May 25th.

GVA defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are shot or killed excluding the shooter. The United States ended 2021 with 693 mass shootings, the year before there were 611 and 2019 included 417.

As for school shootings, in 2021 alone there were 34 shooting incidents at educational institutions the highest since the GVA established its database.

In May, the US marked its Memorial Day weekend with at least 12 mass shootings.

The coincidence of the Monday shooting with Independence Day parades revived the worries which many Americans are struggling with about the risk of their country's headlong plunge into chaos and anarchism.

On Sunday, several hundred protesters marched in Akron, Ohio for a fourth day after the release of body camera footage that showed police fatally shooting a Black man with several dozen rounds of bullets.

The incident was the latest death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, an African-American citizen, at the hands of police, events that have sparked mass protests over racism and police brutality.

Police said they didn’t know the exact number of bullets fired at Walker, but the medical examiner’s report “indicates over 60 wounds to Mr. Walker’s body.”

Jodie Patterson of Brooklyn, a Black mother, saw a dominant culture of white, wealthy men too easily overlooking the rest of America.

Only white men signed the Declaration of Independence, and most, like its main author Thomas Jefferson, owned Black slaves.

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