Three people injured when shots are fired in parking lot of Six Flags Great America in Gurnee

“All of sudden they heard what sounded like fireworks go off. Then they went running,” said Brian Donda, whose son sought shelter behind a hill at the park.

SHARE Three people injured when shots are fired in parking lot of Six Flags Great America in Gurnee
Three people were shot Sunday night in the parking lot of Six Flags Great America in Gurnee. Numerous police agencies responded to reports of a shooting and helped to evacuate the park.

Three people were shot Sunday night in the parking lot of Six Flags Great America in Gurnee. Numerous police agencies responded to reports of a shooting and helped to evacuate the park.

Kaitlin Washburn/Sun-Times

Brian Donda was on the phone with his son Charlie at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee when gunfire erupted in the parking lot Sunday evening.

“All of sudden they heard what sounded like fireworks go off. Then they went running,” Donda said. “They latched onto a family and followed them. They jumped over a fence and hid behind a hill. They were trying to find a way to find to get out of the park.”

Finally, they spotted firefighters who waved them to safety.

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Police say three people were injured when people in a car opened fire in the Six Flags parking lot around 7:50 p.m. and then sped off.

“Based on the initial investigation, a white sedan entered the Six Flags parking lot and drove toward the front entrance of the park,” Gurnee police spokesperson Shawn Gaylor said in a statement.

“Suspects exited the vehicle and began shooting at another individual in the parking lot. The suspects got back in the white sedan and quickly left the area,” Gaylor said.

A 17-year-old boy from Aurora was shot in the upper leg and a 19-year-old woman from Appleton, Wisconsin, was shot in the lower leg. Both were treated at a hospital and released later Sunday night, police said. A third person, whose age was not released, suffered a shoulder injury and declined medical treatment.

Police said several agencies helped to clear out the park. Gaylor said it appeared to be a targeted incident. “This was not an active shooter incident inside the theme park,” Gaylor said.

Videos posted to social media show a large police presence. Some videos said people ran between rollercoasters and jumped over fences to flee the park. Other videos show people running and screaming. 

Nicole Ellsworth told WBBM-TV she was in the park with her daughter when people started running everywhere. “People were looking for their kids and crying. Officers ran in with guns drawn,” she said. 

At around 11 p.m., a police truck over a speaker drove around the perimeter saying repeatedly: “Attention, anybody in the park. This is the police. There is no threat, it is safe to come out.”

Six Flags released a statement saying the park would be open on Monday.

Rachel Kendziora, a spokesperson for the park, said each guest is screened before they enter. “The screening system detects potential threats and directs guests to a secondary screening station where further inspection takes place and bags are subject to X-ray,” she said.

Contributing: Kade Heather, Kaitlin Washburn, David Struett

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