Highland Park holds moment of silence for those killed during Fourth of July parade

Over 100 people stood inside Port Clinton Square in downtown Highland Park to hold a moment of silence Monday morning for those killed during the mass shooting just a week ago.

The silence began at 10:14 a.m. — the moment when a gunman, perched on a rooftop, opened fire on people gathered to watch the annual Fourth of July parade. Seven people were killed, and at least three dozen injured.

Planned to last two minutes, it stretched to nearly 10.

There was no formal program for the observation, held in Port Clinton Square. Eventually, the crowd just trickled away, gathering again to chat in small groups outside the square.

Framed drawings of each victim sat on chairs. Flowers, balloons, candles and stuffed animals adorned the ground in front of them.

Some held hands tightly as they cried. Others held each other for comfort.

Carmen Sanchez, 53, was surrounded by family, standing just steps away from the memorial. She was at the parade with her three children when the shooting happened.

For the 33-year resident of Highland Park, the parade always had been a point of pride and happiness.

“It’s so hard to explain how we went from being so happy to running, not knowing what was going on,” Sanchez said.

She said she’s been praying around the clock for the families of those who were killed and those recovering from their wounds. Sanchez is having a hard time understanding why she and her family were spared.

“We’re blessed. We are very lucky that all we are having to deal with is grieving,” Sanchez said.

Highland Park residents observe 2-minute moment of silence on Monday, July 11, 2022 for the victims of the July 4 shooting.

Highland Park residents observe a moment of silence on Monday for the victims of the July 4 shooting. Planned to last just two minutes, it stretched to nearly 10.

But grieving is immensely hard.

Sanchez hadn’t slept for a week, continuing to replay that tragic morning in her head. Saturday, she said, was the first time she had a long sleep — though it was anything but peaceful.

“My mom and my son said I was moaning and crying throughout my sleep,” Sanchez said. “I don’t remember what I was dreaming, I don’t know what was going on. It just hasn’t left me.”

Still, she said, it is important to stay strong and not let an act of evil stop you from finding joy. She will still plan on being back at the next Highland Park Fourth of July Parade, just as she has for the past three decades.

“We are not letting this stop us and is a reason why we came here today,” Sanchez said. “We won’t let this stop us from being happy. We have so many good memories in this area.”

Brian Caponi, 55, said he was overcome with emotions during the moment of silence.

“It was very powerful. I was amazed and it kind of overtook me,” Caponi said.

Caponi owns CPR Cell Phone Repair, 1854 1st St., which along with other businesses in the area along Central Street has been shut down for the past week as police investigators collected evidence. He said he needed to pay his respects.

“This all still hasn’t sunk in because you see al this stuff all over the news and to think it happened this close to my business is sad,” Caponi said. “I had friends at the parade, I had friends on a float that was coming up the street. … I could never imagine this would happen so close to us.”

Derrick Bailey said he heard about the moment of silence and drove from Waukegan to pay his respects. Though he said he had no connection to the parade he felt “as a human being it was necessary.”

“We shouldn’t have to be here doing this but here we are,” Bailey said. “Seeing their faces and flowers on the ground is just so sad because you know there are so many people left behind just trying to make sense of this all and forced to pick up the pieces.”

Pictures of the seven victims of the mass shooting at the July 4 parade in Highland Park were on display on Monday, July 11, 2022 in Port Clinton Square.

Pictures of the seven victims of the mass shooting at the July 4 parade in Highland Park were on display on Monday in Port Clinton Square, where a moment of silence was observed, beginning at the exact time a gunman had opened fire a week ago.

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