One of the people who died in the shooting at an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago was an active member of a local Jewish congregation, which once taught preschoolers and coordinated bar and bat festivities.
He was the last lovable grandfather and father of eight who went to the show “for a fun family day out,” his granddaughter said.
Photos of the dead began to emerge on Tuesday as investigators continued to search for evidence in the shooting that killed at least seven 30 were injured in Highland Park, an affluent suburb on Chicago’s north shore. Only two of the seven dead have been identified.
Among the dead was Jackie Sondheim, 63, a lifelong congregation and a “beloved” employee of the nearby North Shore congregation in Israel, where she has worked for decades, the synagogue said on its website. Early in her career, she taught at the Gates of Learning Preschool of the Reform Synagogue, and later coordinated events, bar parties and bats.
“Jackie’s work, kindness and warmth have touched all of us,” the synagogue leaders wrote in a message on the site. “There are not enough words to express the depth of our grief over Jackie’s death and our sympathies to her family and loved ones.”
Nicholas Toledo was killed in what his granddaughter, 23-year-old Zochel Toledo, said was meant to be a “fun family day” which “turned into a terrible nightmare for all of us”.
On a GoFundMe page to raise money for Toledo’s funeral expenses, Zochel Toledo said her grandfather was a “loving, creative, adventurous and funny man.”
“As a family we’re broken, drugged,” she said.
Nicholas Toledo, who was in his late 70s, had spent most of his life in Morelos, Mexico, and had come to Illinois to visit his family about two months ago, according to Chicago Sun Times. His family wanted him to stay permanently due to the injuries he sustained after being hit by a car two years ago during a previous visit to Highland Park. The newspaper reported that he was hit by three bullets on Monday and died at the scene.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to attend the show due to the large crowds and his limited mobility, which required him to use a walker, but Zochel Toledo said the family didn’t want to leave him alone.
Savage reported from Chicago. Venhuizen reported from Madison, Wisconsin.