Alexander Sandoval and his family were among many who gathered along a parade route in Highland Park, Illinois, on Monday for the Independence Day parade. Then a deadly chaos erupted.
“We saw people falling to the ground and people running,” Sandoval told Reuters. That’s when he picked up his son and younger brother and ran. They tried to break into a shop to cover up, but to no avail.
On Tuesday, officials said,Robert “Bobby” Cremo III, 21, shot the paratroopers from a nearby rooftop with a high-powered rifle. Dozens were injured. Investigators believe Karimo, who has since been arrested and charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, “planned this attack several weeks in advance.”
“Once the bullets stopped for a second, we started running again. He reloaded and started shooting again,” he said. After rounding the corner, he separated from his family and another child. With his family gone and the shooter still firing his rounds, he chose the safest place he could find for his son – a trash can.
“It’s just a natural instinct,” Sandoval told Reuters. “It was the best place back then.” “And I had to think about the resources I had and that was all I could do. It was a terrible feeling but I had to find the rest of my family and see what I could do to help my loved ones.”
More than 70 shots were fired during the shooting, police said on Tuesday, adding that once the paratroopers were finished shooting, the suspect threw the gun and fled into the crowd.
Highland Park was just one of many shootings that occurred over the weekend of July 4th. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there was, killing at least 220 people across the United States and injuring nearly 570 others. At least 11 of those incidents were mass shootings, according to the archive, meaning four or more people were shot.
Sandoval said the whole experience and seeing people in “such terrible pain” was “terrifying.”
“I just hope those families find peace and reconciliation with all of this,” he said.