Lives lost in Highland Park shooting leave community, country reeling in grief, heartache

Republican lawmakers often decry fatherlessness and the breakdown of “family values,” yet they recoil at the thought of enacting common sense gun regulations. These misguided leaders need a reminder that with each shooting, someone’s family is demoralized or destroyed.

SHARE Lives lost in Highland Park shooting leave community, country reeling in grief, heartache
Aiden McCarthy, 2 1⁄2 years old, lost both parents in the Highland Park Fourth of July parade mass shooting. His grandfather said his father Kevin McCarthy used his body to shield the child from the gunfire.

Provided

Those who lost their lives were executed in front of their loved ones.

Some of the wounded share the same last name.

One boy — shielded from the bullets by his father’s body — wasn’t even aware of the horror thrown his way, too young to comprehend that both his parents are now gone forever.

“Mommy and Daddy are coming soon,” 2 ½-year-old Aiden McCarthy surmised after Robert Crimo III allegedly fired more than 80 rounds into the crowd at Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade last week.

Editorial

Editorial

Sadly, it’ll just be a matter of time before Aiden will realize that Kevin and Irina McCarthy — his Mommy and Daddy — are never coming back to give him a bear hug, tuck him into bed and watch him grow.

Much of Aiden’s short life spanned the height of the pandemic, an unprecedented time when everyone around the globe sheltered in place with limited human interaction outside the home. His parents were likely his world and he theirs.

Aiden was just starting to get a taste of the normalcy he never knew with his parents at his side when they were ruthlessly snatched up by the routine gun violence that has come to define America.

That shouldn’t be the reality dealt to a toddler. But in our country, that unfortunate scenario has become commonplace no matter the ZIP code.

Republican lawmakers often decry fatherlessness and the breakdown of “family values,” yet they recoil at the thought of enacting common sense gun regulations. These misguided leaders need a reminder that with each shooting, someone’s family is demoralized or destroyed.

Take the case of educator Keely Roberts, who was injured in Monday’s shooting along with her 8-year-old twin sons. Luke Roberts was treated for shrapnel wounds to his leg. His brother, Cooper, remains hospitalized with a severed spine. He’s believed to be paralyzed from the waist down.

Even though Crimo made violent threats to his family in the fall of 2019, he was able to get a firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card a few months later after his father gave him the adult consent needed to obtain one, according to the Sun-Times.

So it was with the help of his dad, authorities said, that Crimo secured the Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle that was used to shoot someone else’s father, mother, grandparent or role model on the Fourth of July.

“The gun lobby and America’s cultural worship of guns is deadly,” Tobias Straus, a grandson of 88-year-old victim Stephen Straus, told CNN. “It kills grandfathers.”

Stephen Straus, a full-time financial adviser at the Stifel investment firm, was an avid biker who enjoyed the outdoors, the Art Institute and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, his family said.

The senior citizen had “a lot of life left in him,” Tobias Straus, 20, was quoted as saying to CNN.

No doubt so did the McCarthys, who were in their 30s, and the other four victims who died as they tried to escape the gunfire.

Preschoolers and members of North Shore Congregation Israel no longer have 63-year-old Jacki Sundheim to help them tie their shoes or organize bar and bat mitzvahs.

Nicolas Toledo Zaragoza’s family coaxed him into attending Monday’s parade because they didn’t want to leave the septuagenarian alone at home. Gone are their days of trying to persuade the Morelos, Mexico, native to live with them in Highland Park permanently.

Like Aiden’s father, Eduardo Uvaldo’s son-in-law tried to shield the 69-year-old Waukegan man. But Uvaldo had been hit. He died at Evanston Hospital on Wednesday, leaving behind a tight-knit family with him at the parade two days earlier. Maria Uvaldo, his wife of 50 years, was among the three dozen injured, left to pick up the pieces along with her children and grandchildren.

Opinion Newsletter

Opinion This Week

A weekly overview of opinions, analysis and commentary on issues affecting Chicago, Illinois and our nation by outside contributors, Sun-Times readers and the CST Editorial Board.

When Cassie Goldstein saw her mother collapse that morning in the north suburb, she knew she was dead.

But Goldstein had to keep running to escape the same fate.

“I just told her that I loved her, but I couldn’t stop, because he was still shooting everyone next to me,” the younger Goldstein, 22, said in an NBC Nightly News interview.

Just minutes before, 64-year-old Katherine Goldstein enthusiastically waved at every single float.

She was “the best mom in the world,” Cassie Goldstein said.

While Aiden is awaiting his parents’ return, the family and friends of the other dead victims in the Highland Park massacre are dreadfully cognizant that a person they held dear was gunned down on America’s birthday.

It is unclear what motivated the 21-year-old alleged gunman to relentlessly pull the trigger on Independence Day. But when Crimo decided to shoot without mercy on that rooftop, as police said, he fractured a community, breaking the hearts of so many who just wanted to celebrate the strengths of the country only to end up engulfed in its ugliness.

Want to write a letter to the editor or submit an op-ed for the Sun-Times? See our guidelines.

The Latest
The car was later found in the West Woodlawn neighborhood about 11 miles away and it was not known if the carjacker was hit, according to Chicago police.
The man, 43, was with a group of people near the 2600 block of North Cannon Drive when he slipped and fell into the water early Wednesday.
She-Hulk’s look adds to the campy fun of this borderline silly but always entertaining chapter in the never-ending Marvel saga.
A man while fatally shot while in a car in the 3100 block of West Huron Street.
The man, 57, was attacked about 2:20 a.m. in the 3500 block of West Pershing Road, Chicago police said.