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Independence Day mass shooting in Chicago suburb sends shock waves through US

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-07-05 07:25
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An armed law enforcement officer patrols the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois on July 4, 2022. A shooter opened fire Monday during a parade to mark US Independence Day in the state of Illinois, killing at least six people, officials said. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW YORK - The latest mass shooting targeting participants of an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, in the northern suburbs of Chicago, on Monday morning has sent a new round of shock waves across the United States.

Not only the death of six people and injury of 31 others, but also the on-going manhunt of the shooter hours after the calamity leave many on high alert.

Tom Genest, a resident from Highland Park, told Xinhua that his family has been living there for several generations and gun shooting has never happened in the area before.

Many police were deployed along the route of the parade, according to Genest, who was around two blocks away from the scene when gun fire took place.

Celebration activities in nearby areas like the City of Evanston and Village of Deerfield have been cancelled out of an abundance of caution.

In New York City, the police is keeping a close eye on large gatherings amid fears of copycat moves as the city is scheduled to display spectacular fireworks over the East River and hold other celebration activities on Monday.

"The New York City Police Department will have officers on the ground throughout the five boroughs to prevent crime with a particular focus on gun violence," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement.

The carnage on Monday re-focused people's attention on gun violence and gun control in the country and brought back the memories of recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; Tulsa, Oklahoma, and other places.

The mass shooting in Highland Park "is a devastating reminder of the horrific damage gun violence inflicts in our communities," said New York Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell.

Alan Goldsher, a writer from the Chicago area, said via his twitter account, "I grew up two suburbs away from Highland Park. The fact that there was a mass shooting in that area is beyond concerning ... It's not a Chicago thing. It's a society thing."

Gun violence is a matter of accessibility and abundance of guns and is a public health issue rather than a mental health issue, according to a recent opinion piece by Hank Milius, president and chief executive officer at Meridian Health Services from Indiana.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker condemned the "monster" and "evil" behind the mass shooting, saying, "We must and we will end this plague of gun violence."

In a statement issued by the White House, US President Joe Biden said he was "shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day".

Biden urged federal law enforcement to assist in the search for the shooter.

Biden mentioned the bipartisan gun reform legislation which he recently signed into law and said more work needs to be done to fight the "epidemic of gun violence."

The gun safety law requires young people ages 18 to 21 to undergo enhanced background checks, but the law alone is unlikely to tackle the gun violence issue.

Moreover, the US Supreme Court added tensions over gun control in late June by striking down a century-old New York State law requiring gun owners to have probable cause in order to carry a concealed weapon.

The United States has recorded 309 cases of mass shootings so far this year, and as many as 22,324 people died from gun violence, without easing from the jump in the previous two years, according to Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit organization that tracks gun-related violence in the country.

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