The lives lost in Highland Park July 4 parade mass shooting
A father who shielded his son from gunfire, a devoted mother, and a grandfather with a big smile and bright blue eyes are among the seven victims whose stories are being shared by loved ones in the fallout of one of the worst mass shootings in Illinois history.
On Monday, a gunman perched on a rooftop opened fire on crowds attending north suburban Highland Park’s Independence Day parade, killing seven and wounding nearly 50 community members.
Five died at the scene and two died in the days following the traumatic downtown massacre.
A father who shielded his son from gunfire, a financial analyst who was always quick with a quip, a devoted mother and a “wonderful” grandfather are among the seven victims whose stories are being told by family, friends and colleagues in the aftermath of one of the worst mass shootings in Illinois history.
While no person’s life can be captured in a single story, this list will be updated as the picture of loss continues to develop.
Irina, 35, and Kevin, 37, McCarthy
Born in Russia, Irina McCarthy settled in the Chicago area with her immigrant father and mother. She worked as a waitress and attended Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire and DePaul University before landing a job in digital marketing in the pharmaceutical industry, her father said.
Irina, 35, met her husband Kevin, 37 — a DePaul alum who worked for a gene therapy startup — through her job in pharmaceuticals.
Irina and Kevin had a little boy —2-year-old Aiden McCarthy.
The McCarthys lived in Highland Park and had been looking forward to going to the parade with Aiden, Irina’s father Michael Levberg said.
“They were crazy about their child,” Aiden’s grandfather said. “They were planning two.”
Aiden survived because his father shielded him with his body, according to his grandfather.
Also wounded was Aiden’s paternal grandmother Margo McCarthy, who helped the couple with childcare and had gone with her son and daughter-in-law to the parade.
“She was holding Aiden when the shooting started,” her cousin Montgomery Kersten said, and was struck in the neck and ear and treated for her injuries.
Kevin is also survived by his father Michael and sister Katie.
“We’re going to join forces to support Aiden here,” Kersten said, “and to do the best we can to help our nation try and prevent these events from happening in the future.”
A GoFundMe page set up for the little boy said: “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.
Jacki Sundheim, 63
Jacki Sundheim, 63, of Highland Park, was a beloved preschool teacher at North Shore Congregation Israel.
In a letter to worshipers, Rabbi Wendi Geffen said Mrs. Sundheim was a lifelong congregant who worked for decades on the synagogue’s staff.
“Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all, from her teaching at the Gates of Learning Preschool to guiding innumerable among us through life’s moments of joy and sorrow, all of this with tireless dedication,” Geffen wrote. “There are no words sufficient to express the depth of our grief for Jacki’s death and sympathy for her family and loved ones.”
Mrs. Sundheim’s survivors include her husband, Bruce; a daughter, Leah; and a sister, Tracy Hartlieb.
“Anyone who knew Jacki was grateful to have her in their life,” a friend wrote on a GoFundMe page created for the family. “Most importantly, Jacki was beloved by her family as the best mom, wife, sister, and aunt.”
A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. Friday at North Shore Congregation Israel, 1185 Sheridan Road. The service will be livestreamed at nsci.org/streaming.Shiva — communal mourning in the Jewish faith — is scheduled to follow the service and run until 3 p.m. at the congregation’s Rebecca K. Crown Social Hall.Memorial donations can be sent to North Shore Congregation Israel via nsci.org/payment.php or the Highland Park Community Foundation at hpcfil.org.
Katherine Goldstein, 64
Katherine Goldstein was a loving mother, friend and an avid bird-watcher, her friend Jill Kirshenbaum said.
Kirshenbaum said she got to know Mrs. Goldstein, 64, while their daughters attended middle school in Highland Park.
They got to know each other on an overnight trip for a STEM-related activity their daughters participated in.
Kirshenbaum said Mrs. Goldstein talked about how much she loved birds and the bird-watching trips that her family would take.
“She was a bird lover,” said Kirshenbaum, who called her friend “the kindest, sweetest.”
Kirshenbaum said she knew Mrs. Goldstein as a mother and wants people to remember how much she cared about her children and “how much she cared about their future. How much she wanted them to succeed. How much she believed in them. She really loved her family.”
Eduardo Uvaldo, 69
The Fourth of July, the day he was shot, was always Eduardo Uvaldo’s favorite.
Hit by a gunman fire from a rooftop at Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade, Mr. Uvaldo died Wednesday at Evanston Hospital.
“His favorite holiday was Fourth of July, and for him to be taken like that from all of us . . .,” said his grandson Tony Guzman.
Shot in the back of the head, Mr. Uvaldo, 69, had remained on life support until doctors determined there wasn’t anything they could do to save him.
He and his wife Maria had recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
She also was wounded, struck in the head and leg by fragments at the parade and was treated at a hospital and released, their grandson said.
Another grandson, Brian Franco Hogan, 13, also was injured.
“My brother has a [bullet] fragment stuck in his arm,” Guzman said. “The doctors said he has to leave it in, or it can do more damage if they pull it out.”
Mr. Uvaldo was a strong and loving presence who “basically raised us all,” Guzman said. “He’s like a second father to us.”
The Uvaldos have four daughters, 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“He loved every single one of us,” Guzman said. “He would never treat any of us different…He’s very goofy. He would make us laugh. He would make silly faces. He loved being a grandfather.”
“He was loving, caring and taught his daughters and family to always stay united,” family friend Jackie Tapia said. “He was just a wonderful person.”
He and his wife grew up in Sabinas Hidalgo in the Mexican state of Nuevo León, according to Guzman. They settled in Highwood before moving to Waukegan 32 years ago.
Mr. Uvaldo, who was retired, worked at jobs including maintenance for Abbott Laboratories. His wife, also retired, worked at Walmart.
Maria Uvaldo “is devastated at the moment, and there is nothing that can calm her down,” Tapia said. “As for her injuries, they’re minor, so she should recover. She’s just overwhelmed now.”
“Family from Mexico and Texas have been showing up,” Guzman said. “We’re trying to make her feel as much love as she can during this time.”
The couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in Paris.
“My grandparents traveled, but it was always in state or Mexico,” Guzman said. “They were just starting to get out of their comfort zone. My grandpa loved it so much. He wanted to go back.”
They’d hoped to travel next to Puerto Rico and Cancun, Mexico.
“He already bought his clothes for Puerto Rico,” Guzman said. “He was ready to start traveling with my grandma.”
Services for Mr. Uvaldo are planned at 10 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Chapel of Waukegan, 1521 Washington St., with burial at Ascension Cemetery near Libertyville.
His granddaughter has started a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral expenses and assist his widow.
Nicolas Toledo Zaragoza, 78
Nicolas Toledo spent most of his life in Morelos, Mexico, and had come to Illinois to visit his family about two months ago. The family wanted him to stay permanently because of injuries he suffered when he was struck by a car while visiting Highland Park.
At 78, Toledo had eight children, most in the United States and others in Mexico, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, said.
He liked to color, enjoyed fishing and liked to take walks around Highland Park, Xochil Toledo said, also recalling his big smile and bright blue eyes.
“He never wanted to be inside. He always wanted to be outside,” she said.
Nicolas Toledo preferred a home-cooked meal to eating out. He also had a sense of humor and would joke about her grandmother taking his shoes.
“He was a sweet, caring grandfather,” Xochil said. “He wanted only the best for his kids and grandchildren.”
Xochil remembers looking over at her grandfather, who was sitting in the middle of her family, as a band passed them playing music.
“He was so happy,” she said. “Happy to be living in the moment.”
They didn’t realize someone had opened fire on the crowd until bullets started coming toward them. Three struck her grandfather, killing him at the scene.
“He was the one who saved all of our lives. It would have gone to me, my boyfriend or my cousins,” she said.
Instead of getting together for a Fourth of July cookout like the family had planned to do after the parade, Xochil said the family remained in a state of shock. The family created a GoFundMe campaign to help with funeral expenses.
“Not only was Nicolas a loving man, [he was] creative, adventurous and funny,” his family wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I love you abuelito. Descansa en paz.”
Stephen Straus, 88
At 88, Stephen Straus looked forward to each day.
He worked full-time as a financial adviser and was “the oldest member of the staff” at the Stifel investment firm, according to his son Peter Straus.
Stephen Straus walked to the Metra, biked and loved watching the birds and squirrels around his home in Highland Park. He was a frequent visitor to the Art Institute and often attended Friday night concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He was quick with a quip, and his favorite movie was “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
The shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade cut short the life a man who “loved life and tried to live every day to its fullest,” his son said, “and was generous and kind.”
Mr. Straus grew up on the South Side of Chicago, a grandson of German immigrants. He attended a Hyde Park-area high school and Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
In September, he and his wife Linda, whom he met in Chicago, would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, their son said.
Mr. Straus was a generous and knowledgeable mentor to others, according to financial columnist Terry Savage, who said he was helpful with advice when she was starting out as a stockbroker.
“He was so smart and so funny,” Savage said. “Anyone that had him as a financial adviser was lucky. He was current and witty and always had a pithy comment about the stock market.
Mr. Straus also is survived by his son Jonathan, brother Larry and four grandchildren.
In addition to individual GoFundMe campaigns for the victims’ families, Highland Park community members say donations can be made to various organizations aiding victims such as the Highland Park Community Foundation, The Balance Project, as well as a GoFundMe page created to benefit all of the victims of the shooting.
For more coverage of the Highland Park massacre, read the latest reporting from the Sun-Times staff here.