Chicago shooting: Nearly $2million raised for toddler orphaned in Highland Park Independence Day massacre

·4 min read
Chicago shooting: Nearly $2million raised for toddler orphaned in Highland Park Independence Day massacre

Nearly $2million has been raised for a toddler left orphaned in the Fourth of July parade shooting massacre in a suburb of Chicago.

Two-year-old Aiden McCarthy was found wandering alone in the aftermath of the Highland Park mass shooting which claimed seven lives.

He was reunited with his grandparents but it was later confirmed that the boy’s parents, Kevin McCarthy, 37, and Irina McCarthy, 35, were killed.

“At two years old, Aiden is left in the unthinkable position; to grow up without his parents,” wrote Irina Colon on a GoFundMe account she created for the family and Aiden.

By 7am BST on Wednesday, the appeal had already raised $1.8million.

Aiden’s photo had been shared across social media groups in the hours after the shooting, accompanied by pleas to help identify the boy who had been found at the scene bloodied and alone and to reunite him with his family.

Friends of the McCarthys said Irina’s parents would care for the boy going forward.

“In the aftermath of the Highland Park, IL shootings on July 4, the North Shore community rallied to help a boy who we knew nothing about,” Ms Colon wrote in her heartbreaking appeal.

“We took him to safety under tragic circumstances, came together to locate his grandparents, and prayed for the safety of his family.

“Sadly, I need to share his name…Aiden McCarthy. And he needs more of our help. His parents Irina & Kevin were killed during the July 4 shooting.

“At two years old, Aiden is left in the unthinkable position; to grow up without his parents.

Irina and Kevin McCarthy were shot and killed by suspected gunman Robert Crimo III (GoFundMe)
Irina and Kevin McCarthy were shot and killed by suspected gunman Robert Crimo III (GoFundMe)

“Aiden will be cared for by his loving family and he will have a long road ahead to heal, find stability, and ultimately navigate life as an orphan. He is surrounded by a community of friends and extended family that will embrace him with love, and any means available to ensure he has everything he needs as he grows.”

Four of other others who were killed were identified on Tuesday as Katherine Goldstein, 64; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; Stephen Straus, 88; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78. Every victim was from Highland Park except for Toledo-Zaragoza, who was visiting family in the city from Morelos, Mexico.

Officials have yet to identify the seventh victim.

Portraits of some of those who died began to emerge as investigators continued to search for evidence in the shooting wounded 30.

Irina McCarthy’s childhood friend, Angela Vella, described her as fun, personable and “somewhat of a tomboy” who still liked to dress up nicely.

Flowers sit on a curb near a child's bicycle at the scene of the atrocity (AP)
Flowers sit on a curb near a child's bicycle at the scene of the atrocity (AP)

“She definitely had her own style, which I always admired,” Ms Vella said in a short interview.

Mr Straus, a Chicago financial adviser, was one of the first observers at the parade and attended it every year, his grandchildren said.

Brothers Maxwell and Tobias Straus described their grandfather as a kind and active man who loved walking, biking and attending community events.

“The way he lived life, you’d think he was still middle-aged,” Maxwell Straus said in an interview.

The two brothers recalled Sunday night dinners with their grandparents as a favourite tradition. They said they ate with him the night before he was killed.

“America’s gun culture is killing grandparents,” said Mr Straus. “It’s very just terrible.”

The suspected gunman, Robert Crimo III, has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. Law enforcement officials gave his age as 21 or 22.

Lake County State’s attorney Eric Rinehart promised that dozens more charges would be sought. He said the suspect, if convicted of murder, would receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Police earlier said Crimo legally bought two high-powered rifles and three other weapons despite authorities being called to his home twice since 2019 after he threatened suicide and violence.

Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli told a news conference that the suspected shooter used a high-powered rifle “similar to an AR-15” to spray more than 70 rounds from atop a commercial building into a crowd that had gathered for the parade in Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on the Lake Michigan shore.

A police officer pulled over Crimo north of the shooting scene several hours after police released his photo and warned that he was likely armed and dangerous.

Crimo had evading initial capture by dressing as a woman and blending into the fleeing crowd, police said.

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