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It's been a year since a deadly mass shooting in Highland Park, Ill.


Today, the community of Highland Park, Ill., will gather to honor the people who were killed and injured a year ago during a mass shooting. That's when a gunman climbed onto a rooftop and opened fire on a July Fourth parade in that Chicago suburb. Alex Degman of member station WBEZ joins us. Hello, Alex.


SCHMITZ: So Highland Park has held a July Fourth parade for years. But last year, residents saw something they never thought they would see. Remind us what occurred.

DEGMAN: Right. The parade had just begun, when there were gunshots. A man with an assault weapon fired more than 80 rounds into the crowd, and it was chaos. Elected officials, first responders and their families - they were all there at this parade, and they were scrambling to make sure that their families were safe first. And then, immediately, they had to shift their attention to the paradegoers and the people marching in the parade. Mayor Nancy Rotering, who was at the parade, says she's talked to a lot of adults since then who never thought a shooting would occur in their town. But children had a totally different response.

NANCY ROTERING: Every single one of them said, we expected this to happen in Highland Park. The adults were like, how could this ever happen in Highland Park? But the kids said, we expected this to happen, and we expected it to happen in school.

DEGMAN: And instead, it happened on a parade route. When the shooting stopped, seven people had been killed. Forty-eight people were injured. A hunt for the gunman lasted several hours and ended with police taking him into custody after a car chase.

SCHMITZ: Oftentimes, children know far more than adults in these situations. Highland Park said there would be no parade this year. What is happening today?

DEGMAN: Well, it's actually a day full of events, but officials planned the day today knowing that people are still healing. They're starting by commemorating the seven people who lost their lives and the many more who were injured, and there's also going to be what they're calling a community walk. It's going to be a walk along the parade route that was marred last year. There won't be floats or politicians or bands. There's also a community picnic. There's some live music at the high school. And instead of fireworks, there's going to be a 10- to 15-minute drone show called "We Are Highland Park."

SCHMITZ: How are people feeling about security?

DEGMAN: Well, the people I've talked to are feeling pretty good. There are restrictions set up at some events. Some metal detectors are going to be at entrances to things like the remembrance ceremony and the community walk, and they've asked people not to line up as spectators for the walk. And there's also going to be more police. They'll be using helicopters. There's going to be drones, and you'll probably see more of them perched on rooftops. And there are going to be officers from other nearby towns. And it's interesting to note - Highland Park already had an assault weapons ban in place last year, but the Illinois state legislature, after the shooting, enacted a statewide ban. And another piece of legislation that they passed will allow for local police to use drones to patrol large events like this parade and festivals.

SCHMITZ: So what is the latest with the alleged shooter? And I understand it's not just him facing charges here.

DEGMAN: Yeah. The accused gunman is Robert Crimo III. He was 21 at the time. He faces 117 charges, and that includes 21 for first-degree murder. He's got a hearing in September, and we could see a trial date set then. His father, Robert Crimo Jr., faces seven counts of reckless conduct, and that's over the sponsorship of his son's firearm owner's ID card. Now, that's needed to own a gun here. But anybody under 21 has to have a sponsor to get a card, and the suspect was 19 when he got his. And a lot of people are angry because police were called to the Crimo house multiple times. In one instance, family members said that Crimo was threatening to kill everyone there. And authorities confiscated knives, but said that there wasn't any sign of any guns there. And the Lake County state's attorney is alleging that the elder Crimo knew that his son might be troubled, but signed off on the FOID card anyway. Now, I should mention that those court dates are a ways off, but today is about remembering the victims of the shooting and just bringing the community back together.

SCHMITZ: That's WBEZ'S Alex Degman. Thank you, Alex.

DEGMAN: You're welcome.

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Alex Degman