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July 4 suspect charged with seven counts of first-degree murder

Accused shooter charged

The man suspected in the Fourth of July mass shooting in a Chicago suburb has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, but officials expect there will be dozens more.

If convicted of the murders of seven people, Robert E. Crimo III will be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Lake County State Attorney Eric Rinehart says he will ask a judge to hold Crimo without bail at an appearance tomorrow.

Rinehart calls the attack that also injured 38 other people premeditated, and says future charges will likely include attempted murder and aggravated battery.

Rinehart says more must be done to prevent attacks like this in the future, including banning assault weapons "in Illinois and beyond."

Earlier today, police revealed they visited the suspect's home twice in 2019, including after one report that Crimo told a family member he planned to "kill everyone."

A spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force told a news conference Tuesday that police in Highland Park, Ill., first responded to Crimo’s home in April 2019 after an individual reported that he had attempted suicide a week earlier.

Police spoke with Crimo’s parents and the matter was dealt with by mental-health professionals as there wasn’t any law-enforcement action to be taken at that time, said Christopher Covelli.

The next interaction happened in September of that year, when a family member reported that Crimo said he was going to "kill everyone," and that he had a collection of knives.

Covelli said police responded to his home, where they removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but there was no probable cause to arrest and no complaints were signed.

The Highland Park Police Department did immediately notify the Illinois State Police about the incident, he said.

Pressed by reporters on whether the September 2019 incident was an opportunity to intervene and potentially prevent the shooting on Monday, Covelli said there was little more police could have done.

“Police can’t make an arrest unless there is probable cause to make an arrest or somebody is willing to sign complaints regarding an arrest,” he said. “Absent of those things, police don’t have the power to detain somebody.”

Covelli said Crimo legally purchased five guns, including the rifle used in the attack and one found in a vehicle with him when he was arrested, as well as handguns and other firearms seized at his father’s home Monday.

Though Covelli didn’t know exactly when the guns were bought, he said it was after the incident in September 2019.

Authorities also on Tuesday released the identities of six of the seven victims: Katherine Goldstein, 64; Irina McCarthy, 35; Kevin McCarthy, 37; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; and Stephen Straus, 88, all from Highland Park; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, of Mexico.

The violence at the Independence Day parade is the latest to erupt in the United States, just six weeks after a deadly elementary school rampage in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 children and two teachers.

The confluence of America's birthday and a worsening epidemic of gun violence is sure to conjure a familiar brew of hurt, helplessness and outrage.

Covelli said the community in Highland Park has been very helpful in providing information to law enforcement, but based on video surveillance, police believe a woman saw Crimo drop his rifle inside a red blanket immediately following the shooting.

He urged that witness to come forward and speak with investigators, as well as anyone else with relevant firsthand information.

He added that the state’s attorney’s office would hold a news conference at 5:30 p.m. local time and charges are expected to be announced at that time.

Covelli told an earlier news conference on Tuesday that the suspect planned the attack for several weeks and wore women's clothing to conceal his facial tattoos and to blend into the crowd as he fled the scene.

He said the suspect brought a legally purchased high-power rifle to the parade, climbed onto the roof of a business via a fire escape ladder and fired more than 70 rounds at people gathered at the Independence Day celebration.

Video clips posted to social media showed the festivities collapsing into panic as revellers realized they were under fire and scrambled for cover.

After the attack, police said Crimo dropped his rifle and escaped, blending into the crowd as if he were an "innocent spectator" and walking to his mother's house, where he borrowed her car.

Police put out an alert with information about Crimo and the vehicle, and a member of the public who spotted the vehicle dialed 911 and officers were able to apprehend him.

Covelli said a second rifle was located in the vehicle, also purchased by Crimo, and the suspect remains in custody. An update on charges is expected later today.

The officer added there is no indication that anyone else was involved in the attack and a motive has not been determined. Police have no information that it was religiously or racially motivated, Covelli said, adding it appears to be "completely random."

Covelli also said Crimo is actually 21, not 22 as previously reported, and is a resident of Highwood, Ill., near Highland Park.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering told CNN that she was once the alleged gunman's Cub Scout pack leader.

"Many years ago, he was just a little boy, a quiet little boy that I knew," Rotering said. "It breaks my heart. It absolutely breaks my heart."

A statement from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas described a "celebration of our nation punctured by tragedy," and commended the efforts of local law enforcement.

"The security of our homeland requires more; It requires all of us, together, to address the epidemic of targeted gun violence" with new community-based prevention and intervention strategies.

In a tweet late Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered condolences to the victims, their families and the Highland Park community.

They "wanted nothing more than to celebrate their country … but instead had their lives change forever," Trudeau tweeted.

"To the injured, and to the loved ones of the victims: Canadians are keeping you in our thoughts."



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2 key UK Cabinet ministers quit Boris Johnson's government

2 cabinet ministers quit

Two of Britain’s most senior Cabinet ministers resigned on Tuesday, a move that could spell the end of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership after months of scandals.

Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned within minutes of each other after a day in which the prime minister was forced to acknowledge he had to change his story on the way he handled allegations of sexual misconduct by a senior member of his government.

“It is with enormous regret that I must tell you that I can no longer, in good conscience, continue serving in this government,’’ Javid said in his resignation letter. “I am instinctively a team player but the British people also rightly expect integrity from their government.’’

Sunak said “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. ”

“I recognize this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning,” he added.

Both Sunak and Javid have been seen as possible leadership contenders within the Conservative Party if Johnson is forced out. Their departures were a huge blow to the prime minister, because both were in charge of two of the biggest issues facing Britain — the cost of living crisis and the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Their exits were followed Tuesday by two other Conservatives: Bim Afolami, who quit as the party’s vice-chair while live on TV, and Andrew Murrison, who resigned as a trade envoy to Morocco.

Other senior Cabinet ministers, including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, indicated they would be staying.

Johnson’s authority had already been shaken by a series of government scandals and a vote of no confidence last month. He survived, but 41% of Conservatives voted to remove him from office.

The prime minister’s shifting responses to months of allegations about lockdown-breaking parties in government offices that ultimately resulted in 126 fines, including one levied against Johnson, fueled persisting concerns about his leadership.

Two weeks later, Conservative candidates were badly beaten in two special elections to fill vacant seats in Parliament, adding to the discontent within Johnson’s party.

The latest crisis came after Johnson was hit by allegations he failed to come clean over what he knew about previous sexual misconduct allegations against a lawmaker who was appointed to a senior position.

The lawmaker, Chris Pincher, resigned as deputy chief whip Thursday amid complaints that he groped two men at a private club.

Minutes before the resignations of Javid and Sunak were announced, Johnson told reporters that Pincher should have been fired from the government after a previous 2019 incident.

Asked if it was an error to appoint Pincher to the government, Johnson said “I think it was a mistake and I apologize for it. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do.”

“I apologize to everybody who has been badly affected by it. I want to make absolutely clear that there’s no place in this government for anybody who is predatory or who abuses their position of power,” Johnson said Tuesday.

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said “it’s clear that this government is now collapsing.”

“Only a real change of government can give Britain the fresh start it needs,” Starmer said.

The government’s explanation shifted repeatedly over the past five days. Ministers initially said Johnson wasn’t aware of any allegations when he promoted Pincher to the post in February.

On Monday, a spokesman said Johnson knew of sexual misconduct allegations that were “either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint.”

That account didn’t sit well with Simon McDonald, the most senior civil servant at the U.K. Foreign Office from 2015 to 2020. In a highly unusual move, he said Tuesday that the prime minister’s office still wasn’t telling the truth.

McDonald said in a letter to the parliamentary commissioner for standards that he received complaints about Pincher’s behavior in the summer of 2019, shortly after Pincher became a Foreign Office minister. An investigation upheld the complaint, and Pincher apologized for his actions, McDonald said.

McDonald disputed that Johnson was unaware of the allegations or that the complaints were dismissed because they had been resolved or not made formally.

“The original No. 10 line is not true, and the modification is still not accurate,” McDonald wrote, referring to the prime minister’s Downing Street office. “Mr. Johnson was briefed in person about the initiation and outcome of the investigation.

Hours after McDonald’s comments came out, Johnson’s office changed its story again, saying the prime minister forgot he was told that Pincher was the subject of an official complaint.

The latest revelations have fueled discontent within Johnson’s Cabinet after ministers were forced to publicly deliver the prime minister’s denials, only to have the explanation shift the next day.

The Times of London on Tuesday published an analysis of the situation under the headline “Claim of lying puts Boris Johnson in peril.”

When Pincher resigned last week as deputy chief whip, a key position in enforcing party discipline, he told the prime minister that he “drank far too much” the previous night and had “embarrassed myself and other people.”

Johnson initially refused to suspend Pincher from the Conservative Party, but he relented after a formal complaint about the groping allegations was filed with parliamentary authorities.

Critics suggested Johnson was slow to react because he didn’t want to be in the position of forcing Pincher to resign his Parliament seat and setting up the Conservatives for another potential special election defeat.

Even before the Pincher scandal, suggestions were swirling that Johnson may soon face another no-confidence vote.

In the next few weeks, Conservative lawmakers will elect new members to the committee that sets parliamentary rules for the party. Several candidates have suggested they would support changing the rules to allow for another vote of no confidence. The existing rules require 12 months between such votes.

Senior Conservative lawmaker Roger Gale, a long-standing critic of Johnson, said he would support a change of the rules of the Conservative 1922 Committee.

“Mr. Johnson has for three days now been sending ministers — in one case a Cabinet minister — out to defend the indefensible, effectively to lie on his behalf. That cannot be allowed to continue,” Gale told the BBC. “This prime minister has trashed the reputation of a proud and honorable party for honesty and decency, and that is not acceptable."



Biden awards Medal of Honor to 4 for Vietnam War heroism

Medal of Honor for 4

President Joe Biden on Tuesday bestowed the nation's highest military honor to four Army soldiers for heroism during the Vietnam War, bravery that he said had not diminished even with the passage of time.

Biden presented the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Edward N. Kaneshiro, Spc. Five Dwight W. Birdwell, Spc. Five Dennis M. Fujii, and retired Maj. John J. Duffy. Speaking at a ceremony in the White House East Room, Biden praised their heroism, noting that many like them don't receive “the full recognition they deserve.”

“Today, we're setting the record straight. We're upgrading the awards of four soldiers who performed acts of incredible heroism during the Vietnam conflict,” Biden said.

“It’s just astounding when you hear what each of them have done,” he said. “They went far above and beyond the call of duty. It’s a phrase always used but ... it takes on life when you see these men.”

Addressing the three living soldiers and relatives of Kaneshiro, who is deceased, the president said, “I'm proud to finally award our highest military recognition, the Medal of Honor, to each of you.”

Biden noted that more than 50 years had passed “since the jungles of Vietnam where, as young men, these soldiers first proved their mettle. But time has not diminished their astonishing bravery, their selflessness in putting the lives of others ahead of their own and the gratitude that we as a nation owe them.”

Kaneshiro, killed in action by hostile gunfire in Vietnam in 1967, received his honor posthumously for a Dec. 1, 1966 raid where his unit came under fire by North Vietnamese troops. His actions were credited with helping his unit withdraw from the village where they were fighting. Kaneshiro was born and raised in Hawaii, a son of Japanese immigrants.

Birdwell was honored for actions helping to head off an assault and evacuate wounded at Tan Son Nhut Airbase near Saigon on Jan. 31, 1968, despite injuries to his torso and face, during an opening salvo in what is known as the Tet Offensive, an especially bloody period of the war.

Birdwell, a member of the Cherokee Nation and a lawyer in Oklahoma City, had received a Silver Star for his actions. Biden said it took Birdwell's commanding officer decades to realize that Birdwell had not received the proper recognition and took steps, even in retirement, to “make this day possible.”

“At long last, long last, your story is being honored as it should have been always,” Biden told Birdwell.

Fujii received a Medal of Honor for actions over four days in February 1971 treating wounded and directing air strikes against enemy positions after his air ambulance was forced to crash land.

Duffy was recognized for leading troops who came under ambush after their commander was killed in action, repelling attackers and evacuating wounded, despite his own injuries. Duffy went on to become an author and once was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

“He is the definition of a warrior poet,” Biden said.



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Police: Gunman fired more than 70 rounds at July 4 parade

Gunman fired 70+ rounds

The gunman who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago fired more than 70 rounds with an AR-15-style gun that killed at least six people, then evaded initial capture by dressing as a woman and blending into the fleeing crowd, police said Tuesday.

Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli told a news conference that the suspected shooter, who was arrested late Monday, used a high-powered rifle “similar to an AR-15" to spray bullets from atop a commercial building into a crowd that had gathered for a parade in Highland Park, a close-knit community on the shores of Lake Michigan that has long drawn the rich and sometimes famous. More than 30 people were also wounded.

Investigators who have interrogated the suspect and reviewed his social media posts have not determined a motive for the attack, Covelli said.

They have also not found any indication that the shooter targeted anyone by race, religion or other protected status.

Authorities have not filed criminal charges.

Earlier in the day, FBI agents peeked into trash cans and under picnic blankets as they searched for more evidence at the site where the assailant opened fire.

The shots were initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of panicked revelers fled in terror in Highland Park, a close-knit community on the shores of Lake Michigan that has long drawn the rich and sometimes famous.

A day later, baby strollers, lawn chairs and other items left behind by panicked parade goers remained inside a wide police perimeter. Outside the police tape, some residents drove up to collect blankets and chairs they abandoned.

Authorities detained a suspect Monday evening in a traffic stop that led to a brief chase. Police initially described the man as a person of interest, but a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force said Tuesday that he is now considered a suspect.

Charges were expected to be announced soon, according to a spokeswoman for the Lake County state's attorney, Sara Avalos.

Authorities offered no motive for the attack.

The July 4 shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find cause to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.

“It definitely hits a lot harder when it’s not only your hometown but it’s also right in front of you,” resident Ron Tuazon said as he and a friend returned to the parade route Monday evening to retrieve chairs, blankets and a child’s bike that he and his family abandoned when the shooting began.

“It’s commonplace now,” Tuazon said. “We don’t blink anymore. Until laws change, it’s going to be more of the same.”

The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had staked out prime viewing points early in the day for the annual celebration.

Among them was Nicolas Toledo, who was visiting his family in Illinois from Mexico. He was shot and died at the scene, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Also killed was Jacki Sundheim, a lifelong congregant and “beloved” staff member at nearby North Shore Congregation Israel, which announced her death on its website.

Dozens of fired bullets sent hundreds of parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fleeing. They left a trail of abandoned items that showed everyday life suddenly, violently disrupted: a box of chocolate cookies spilled onto the grass; a child’s Chicago Cubs cap; baby strollers, some bearing American flags.

“There’s no safe place,” said Highland Park resident Barbara Harte, 73, who had stayed away from the parade fearing a mass shooting, but later ventured from her home.

Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said a police officer pulled over Robert E. Crimo III about 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of the shooting scene, several hours after police released the man's photo and warned that he was likely armed and dangerous.

Authorities initially said Crimo, whose father once ran for mayor of Highland Park, was 22, but an FBI bulletin and Crimo's social media said he was 21.

Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said the five people killed at the parade were adults, but didn’t have information on the sixth.

Police have not released details about the victims, but Toledo’s granddaughter told the Sun-Times that Toledo had spent most of his life in Morelos, Mexico. Xochil Toledo said she remembers looking over at her grandfather, who was in his late 70s, as a band passed them.

“He was so happy,” she said. “Happy to be living in the moment.”

Xochil Toledo said her father tried to shield her grandfather and was shot in the arm; her boyfriend also was shot in the back and taken by someone to nearby hospital because they weren’t sure there would be enough ambulances for all the victims.

Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director for North American affairs, said on Twitter that two Mexicans were also wounded.

Sundheim had spent decades on the staff at North Shore Congregation Israel, early on teaching at the congregation’s preschool and later serving as Events and B’nei Mitzvah Coordinator, “all of this with tireless dedication,” the congregation said in its statement announcing her death.

“Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all,” the statement said.

NorthShore University Health Center received 26 patients after the attack. All but one had gunshot wounds, said Dr. Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness. Their ages ranged from 8 to 85, and Temple estimated that four or five were children.

“It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference.

“While we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become a weekly — yes, weekly — American tradition.”

Since the start of the year, there have been 15 shootings where four or more people have been killed, including the Highland Park one, according to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University mass killing database.

Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill said the gunman apparently used a “high-powered rifle” to fire from a spot atop a commercial building where he was “very difficult to see.” He said the rifle was recovered at the scene. Police also found a ladder attached to the building.

The task force spokesman, Christopher Covelli, said that Crimo legally purchased the gun in Illinois within the past year.

Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting on social media dozens videos and songs, some ominous and violent.

In one animated video since taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in darkness” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on the ground and another figure with hands up in the distance.

Crimo’s father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Highland Park in 2019, calling himself “a person for the people.”

The community of about 30,000 on Chicago’s north shore has mansions and sprawling lakeside estates and was once home to NBA legend Michael Jordan.

Gina Troiani and her 5-year-old son were lined up with his daycare class ready to walk onto the parade route when she heard a loud sound that she believed was fireworks — until she heard people yell about a shooter.

“We just start running in the opposite direction,” she told The Associated Press. “There were people that got separated from their families, looking for them. Others just dropped their wagons, grabbed their kids and started running.”



FBI searches scene of shooting that targeted July 4 parade

FBI searches shooting scene

FBI agents peeked into trash cans and under picnic blankets Tuesday as they searched for more evidence at the site where a gunman fired on an Independence Day parade from a suburban Chicago rooftop in an attack that killed at least six people.

The assailant's shots were initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of panicked revelers fled in terror in Highland Park, a close-knit community on the shores of Lake Michigan that has long drawn the rich and sometimes famous.

A day later, baby strollers, lawn chairs and other items left behind by panicked parade goers remained inside a wide police perimeter. Outside the police tape, some residents drove up to collect blankets and chairs they abandoned.

Authorities detained a suspect Monday evening in a traffic stop that led to a brief chase. Police initially described the man as a person of interest, but a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force said Tuesday that he is now considered a suspect.

Charges were expected to be announced soon, according to a spokeswoman for the Lake County state's attorney, Sara Avalos.

Authorities offered no motive for the attack.

The July 4 shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find cause to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.

“It definitely hits a lot harder when it’s not only your hometown but it’s also right in front of you,” resident Ron Tuazon said as he and a friend returned to the parade route Monday evening to retrieve chairs, blankets and a child’s bike that he and his family abandoned when the shooting began.

“It’s commonplace now,” Tuazon said. “We don’t blink anymore. Until laws change, it’s going to be more of the same.”

The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had staked out prime viewing points early in the day for the annual celebration.

Among them was Nicolas Toledo, who was visiting his family in Illinois from Mexico. He was shot and died at the scene, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Also killed was Jacki Sundheim, a lifelong congregant and “beloved” staff member at nearby North Shore Congregation Israel, which announced her death on its website.

Dozens of fired bullets sent hundreds of parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fleeing. They left a trail of abandoned items that showed everyday life suddenly, violently disrupted: a box of chocolate cookies spilled onto the grass; a child’s Chicago Cubs cap; baby strollers, some bearing American flags.

“There’s no safe place,” said Highland Park resident Barbara Harte, 73, who had stayed away from the parade fearing a mass shooting, but later ventured from her home.

Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said a police officer pulled over Robert E. Crimo III about 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of the shooting scene, several hours after police released the man's photo and warned that he was likely armed and dangerous.

Authorities initially said Crimo, whose father once ran for mayor of Highland Park, was 22, but an FBI bulletin and Crimo's social media said he was 21.

Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said the five people killed at the parade were adults, but didn’t have information on the sixth.

Police have not released details about the victims, but Toledo’s granddaughter told the Sun-Times that Toledo had spent most of his life in Morelos, Mexico. Xochil Toledo said she remembers looking over at her grandfather, who was in his late 70s, as a band passed them.

“He was so happy,” she said. “Happy to be living in the moment.”

Xochil Toledo said her father tried to shield her grandfather and was shot in the arm; her boyfriend also was shot in the back and taken by someone to nearby hospital because they weren’t sure there would be enough ambulances for all the victims.

Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director for North American affairs, said on Twitter that two Mexicans were also wounded.

Sundheim had spent decades on the staff at North Shore Congregation Israel, early on teaching at the congregation’s preschool and later serving as Events and B’nei Mitzvah Coordinator, “all of this with tireless dedication,” the congregation said in its statement announcing her death.

“Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all,” the statement said.

NorthShore University Health Center received 26 patients after the attack. All but one had gunshot wounds, said Dr. Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness. Their ages ranged from 8 to 85, and Temple estimated that four or five were children.

“It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference.

“While we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become a weekly — yes, weekly — American tradition.”

Since the start of the year, there have been 15 shootings where four or more people have been killed, including the Highland Park one, according to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University mass killing database.

Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill said the gunman apparently used a “high-powered rifle” to fire from a spot atop a commercial building where he was “very difficult to see.” He said the rifle was recovered at the scene. Police also found a ladder attached to the building.

The task force spokesman, Christopher Covelli, said that Crimo legally purchased the gun in Illinois within the past year.

Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting on social media dozens videos and songs, some ominous and violent.

In one animated video since taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in darkness” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on the ground and another figure with hands up in the distance.

Crimo’s father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Highland Park in 2019, calling himself “a person for the people.”

The community of about 30,000 on Chicago’s north shore has mansions and sprawling lakeside estates and was once home to NBA legend Michael Jordan.

Gina Troiani and her 5-year-old son were lined up with his daycare class ready to walk onto the parade route when she heard a loud sound that she believed was fireworks — until she heard people yell about a shooter.

“We just start running in the opposite direction,” she told The Associated Press. “There were people that got separated from their families, looking for them. Others just dropped their wagons, grabbed their kids and started running.”



Ukraine town warned to evacuate ahead of Russian assault

Hit by 'massive shelling'

A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in seizing an eastern Ukraine province essential to his wartime aims, a city in the path of Moscow's offensive came under sustained bombardment, its mayor said Tuesday.

Mayor Vadim Lyakh said in a Facebook that “massive shelling” pummeled Sloviansk, which had a population of about 107,000 before Russian invaded Ukraine more than four months ago. The mayor, who urged residents hours earlier to evacuate, advised them to take cover in shelters.

At least one person was killed and another seven wounded Tuesday, Lyakh said. He said the city’s central market and several districts came under attack, adding that authorities were assessing the extent of the damage.

The barrage targeting Sloviansk underscored fears that Russian forces were positioned to advance farther into Ukraine's Donbas region, a mostly Russian-speaking industrial area where the country's most experienced soldiers are concentrated.

Sloviansk has taken rocket and artillery fire during Russia's war in Ukraine, but the bombardment picked up in recent days after Moscow took the last major city in neighboring Luhansk province, Lyakh said.

“It’s important to evacuate as many people as possible,” he warned Tuesday morning, adding that shelling damaged 40 houses on Monday.

The Ukrainian military withdrew its troops Sunday from the city of Lysychansk to keep them from being surrounded. Russia's defense minister and Putin said the city's subsequent capture put Moscow in control of all of Luhansk, one of two provinces that make up the Donbas.

The office of Ukraine's president said the Ukrainian military was still defending a small part of Luhansk and trying to buy time to establish fortified positions in nearby areas.

The question now is whether Russia can muster enough strength to complete its seizure of the Donbas by taking Donetsk province, too. Putin acknowledged Monday that Russian troops who fought in Luhansk need to “take some rest and beef up their combat capability.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that the war in Ukraine would continue until all of the goals set by Putin are achieved. However, Shoigu said “the main priorities” for Moscow at the moment were “preserving the lives and health” of the troops, as well as “excluding the threat to the security of civilians.”

When Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, his stated goals were defending the people of the Donbas against Kyiv’s alleged aggression, and the “demilitarization” and “denazifaction” of Ukraine.

Pro-Russia separatists have fought Ukrainian forces and controlled much of the Donbas for eight years. Before the invasion, Putin recognized the independence of the two self-proclaimed separatist republics in the region. He also sought to portray the tactics of Ukrainian forces and the government as akin to Nazi Germany's, claims for which no evidence has emerged.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian military said Russian forces also shelled several Donetsk towns and villages around Sloviansk in the past day but were repelled as they tried to advance toward a town about 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the city's north. South of the city, Russian forces were trying to push toward two more towns and shelling areas near Kramatorsk.

Meanwhile, Moscow-installed officials in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region on Tuesday announced the formation of a new regional government there, with a former Russian official at the helm.

Sergei Yeliseyev, the head of the new Moscow-backed government in Kherson, is a former deputy prime minister of Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad and also used to work at Russia's Federal Security Service, or the FSB, according to media reports.

It wasn’t immediately clear what would become of the “military-civic administration” the Kremlin installed earlier. The administration's head, Vladimir Saldo said in a Telegram statement that the new government was “not a temporary, not a military, not some kind of interim administration, but a proper governing body.”

“The fact that not just Kherson residents, but Russian officials, too, are part of this government speaks clearly about the direction the Kherson region is headed in the future," he said. "This direction is to Russia.”

There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials.

In other developments:

— The 30 NATO allies signed off on the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland, sending the membership bids of the two nations to the alliance capitals for legislative approvals. The move further increases Russia’s strategic isolation in the wake of its invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February and military struggles there since. Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed the signing as a "truly a historic moment for Finland, for Sweden and for NATO.”

— The war in Ukraine has drawn millions of dollars away from countries with other crises. Somalia, which is facing a food shortage largely driven by the war, may be the most vulnerable. Its aid funding is less than half of last year’s level while overwhelmingly Western donors have sent more than $1.7 billion to respond to the war in Europe. Yemen, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Congo and the Palestinian territories are similarly affected.

— Spain boosted military spending in an attempt to reach its commitment to NATO to dedicate 2% of gross domestic product to defense. Spain’s Cabinet approved a one-off Defense Ministry expenditure of almost 1 billion euros ($1 billion) that the government said was necessary to pay for unexpected expenses from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Spain has sent military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and deployed more troops and aircraft to NATO missions in Eastern Europe.



76-million-year-old dinosaur skeleton to be auctioned in NYC

Wanna buy a dinosaur?

The fossilized skeleton of a T. rex relative that roamed the earth about 76 million years ago will be auctioned in New York this month, Sotheby's announced Tuesday.

The Gorgosaurus skeleton will highlight Sotheby's natural history auction on July 28, the auction house said.

The Gorgosaurus was an apex carnivore that lived in what is now the western United States and Canada during the late Cretaceous Period. It predated its relative the Tyrannosaurus rex by 10 million years.

The specimen being sold was discovered in 2018 in the Judith River Formation near Havre, Montana, Sotheby's said. It measures nearly 10 feet tall and 22 feet long.

All of the other known Gorgosaurus skeletons are in museum collections, making this one the only specimen available for private ownership, the auction house said.

“In my career, I have had the privilege of handling and selling many exceptional and unique objects, but few have the capacity to inspire wonder and capture imaginations quite like this unbelievable Gorgosaurus skeleton,” Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby's global head of science and popular culture, said.

Sotheby's presale estimate for the fossil is $5 million to $8 million.



July Fourth event shooting causes panic in Philadelphia

2nd July 4 shooting

Scores of people watching a Fourth of July fireworks show in Philadelphia ran for cover when gunshots rang out, forcing them to leave behind strollers and other personal items as they sought refuge from what many feared was an active shooter.

Two Philadelphia police officers working at the event suffered graze wounds when shots were fired shortly after the event started Monday in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum. The gunfire came just hours after another holiday shooting in suburban Chicago left at least six people dead and at least 30 wounded.

Witnesses in Philadelphia said they saw some people being run over or banged into as people tried to flee the packed crowd, with many running through or over metal fences that had been set up for crowd control purposes. No serious injuries were reported in the chaos, though many people said they had scrapes and bruises.

Investigators have not yet determined where the shots were fired from or how many were fired. It's also unclear whether someone intentionally fired at the officers or if the shots possibly came from someone shooting off a weapon to celebrate the holiday or stray bullets from an unrelated shooting.

One officer suffered a wound to the forehead — with officials saying the bullet was found in the officer’s hat — while the other was wounded in the shoulder. Both officers were treated at a hospital and were later released. No other injuries were reported in the incident and no arrests have been made.

Speaking with reporters Monday night after the shooting, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the increasing violence in the city has left him “looking forward to not being mayor.” He also cited frustration over efforts to toughen gun laws.

“This is a gun country. It’s crazy. We are the most armed country in world history and we are one of the least safe," Kenney said. “I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. I’ll be happy when I’m not mayor and I can enjoy some stuff."

The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 on Tuesday announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.



Body parts, gear found on Italian glacier after avalanche

Tragic discovery on glacier

Rescuers found body parts and equipment as they searched Tuesday for hikers missing following a powerful avalanche that killed at least seven people and is being blamed in large part on rising temperatures that are melting glaciers.

Officials initially feared 13 hikers were still missing, but the province of Trento on Tuesday reduced the number of people unaccounted-for to five, after eight others checked in with authorities.

Rain hampered the search Monday, but sunny weather on Tuesday allowed helicopters to bring more rescue teams up to the site on the Marmolada glacier, east of Bolzano in the Dolomite mountains, even as hopes dimmed of finding anyone alive.

A huge chunk of the glacier cleaved off Sunday, sparking an avalanche that sent torrents of ice, rock and debris plowing down the mountainside onto unsuspecting hikers below. At least seven people were killed, officials said.

“We have to be clear, finding someone alive with this type of event is a very remote possibility, very remote, because the mechanical action of this type of avalanche has a very big impact on people," said Alex Barattin of the Alpine Rescue Service.

Nicola Casagli, a geologist and avalanche expert at Florence University, said the impact of the glacier collapse on the hikers was greater than a mere snow avalanche and would have taken them completely by surprise.

“These types of events, which are ice and debris avalanches, are impulsive, rapid, unpredictable phenomena, reaching very high speeds and involving large masses," he said. “And there is no chance of getting to safety or perceiving the problem in advance, because by the time you perceive it, you've already been hit.”

Associated Press photos, taken during a helicopter survey of the site, showed a gaping hole in the glacier as if carved out of the blue-gray ice by a giant ice cream scooper.

The terrain was still so unstable that rescue crews were staying off to the side and using drones to try to find any survivors or signs of life while helicopters searched overhead, some using equipment to detect cellular pings. Two rescuers remained on site overnight, and were joined by more rescuers Tuesday morning.

Maurizio Dellantonio, national president of the Alpine Rescue Service, said teams had found body parts, hiking equipment and clothing on the surface of the debris, evidence of the avalanche's powerful impact on the hikers.

“We have recovered so many fragments over the last two days. They are very painful for those who pick them up. and then for those who have to analyze them," he said. "Personally I can only think that what we found on the surface will be the same that we will find underneath, when the ice will melt or by digging, if there is a chance.”

Officials closed all access routes and chair lifts to the glacier for hikers, fearing continued instability and the potential that more chunks of ice might detach.

Premier Mario Draghi, who visited the rescue base in Canazei on Monday, acknowledged avalanches are unpredictable but that the tragedy “certainly depends on the deterioration of the climate situation.”

Italy is in the midst of an early summer heatwave, coupled with the worst drought in northern Italy in 70 years. Experts say there was unusually little snowfall during the winter, exposing the glaciers of the Italian Alps more to the summer heat and melt.

“We are thus in the worst conditions for a detachment of this kind, when there’s so much heat and so much water running at the base," said Renato Colucci from the Institute of Polar Sciences of the state-run Council for National Research, or CNR. “We aren’t yet able to understand if it was a deep or superficial detachment, but the size of it seems very big, judging from the preliminary images and information received.”

The CNR has estimated that the Marmolada glacier could disappear entirely in the next 25-30 years if current climatic trends continue, given that it lost 30% of its volume and 22% of its area from 2004-2015.

Casagli said what happened on the Marmolada was unusual, but said such destructive avalanches will become more frequent as global temperatures rise.

“The fact that it happened in a scorching summer with abnormal temperatures must be a wake-up call to understand that these phenomena, while rare, are possible,” he told reporters. “If we don't take decisive measures to counter the effects of climate change, they will become more and more frequent."



Griner sends letter to President Biden pleading for help in Russian trial

Griner pleas to president

Brittney Griner has made an appeal to U.S. President Joe Biden in a letter passed to the White House through her representatives saying she feared she might never return home and asking that he not “ forget about me and the other American detainees.”

Griner's agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said the letter was delivered on Monday. Most of the letter's contents to President Biden remain private, though Griner's representatives shared a few lines from the hand-written note.

″…As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote.

“On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran," the Phoenix Mercury centre added. “It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”

The two-time Olympic gold medalist is in the midst of a trial in Russia that began last week after she was arrested on Feb. 17 on charges of possessing cannabis oil while returning to play for her Russian team. The trial will resume Thursday.

Fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in U.S. courts, acquittals can be overturned.

Griner's wife, Cherelle, said Tuesday morning she has not had any direct communication with President Biden since the letter was delivered to the White House.

“I still have not heard from him and honestly, it’s very disheartening," Cherelle Griner said on CBS Mornings.

The White House National Security Council confirmed the White House has received Griner's letter.

“We believe the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner," NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said on Monday. “President Biden has been clear about the need to see all U.S. nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner. The U.S. government continues to work aggressively – using every available means – to bring her home."

Cherelle Griner said for Brittney to reach out directly to Biden is an indication of just how afraid her wife is about what's next.

“BG is probably the strongest person that I know. So she doesn’t say words like that lightly," Cherelle said. “That means she truly is terrified that she may never see us again. And you know I share those same sentiments. ... I’m sure she was like, ‘I’m gonna write him now because ... my family has tried and to no avail. So I’m going do it myself.'"

Griner pleaded with Biden in the letter to use his powers to ensure her return.

“Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore,” Griner said "I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”

Griner has been able to have sporadic communications with family, friends and WNBA players through an email account her agent set up. The emails are printed out and delivered in bunches to Griner by her lawyer after they are vetted by Russian officials. Once the lawyers get back to their office, they’ll scan any responses from Griner and pass them back to the U.S. to send along.

She was supposed to have a phone call with her wife on their anniversary but it failed because of an “unfortunate mistake,” Biden administration officials.

Griner’s supporters have encouraged a prisoner swap like the one in April that brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy. The State Department in May designated her as wrongfully detained, moving her case under the supervision of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.

Griner isn't the only American being wrongfully detained in Russia. Paul Whelan, a former Marine and security director is serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction.



US man to be arraigned in kidnapping case of Edmonton teen

Arraignment in abduction

A man accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old Edmonton girl is scheduled to be arraigned in a courtroom in Oregon today, according to an Oregon City Police spokesman.

The FBI in Portland says its agents helped arrest 41-year-old Noah Madrano on Saturday on accusations of luring the girl to the U.S.

The girl was found in Oregon City, Oregon.

Jail records say that Madrano is being held at the Clackamas County Jail on rape, sexual abuse and kidnapping allegations.



Police find man suspected in shooting at Chicago-area parade

Suspected shooter arrested

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.

A 22-year-old man identified as a person of interest in a shooting during an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago that killed at least six people, wounded at least 30 and sent hundreds of people fleeing was taken into custody Monday evening following an hourslong manhunt, police said.

Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said Monday evening that a police officer briefly chased Robert E. Crimo III as he drove about five miles north of where the shooting occurred before the man pulled over and was taken into custody.

Police declined to immediately identify Crimo as a suspect but said identifying him as a person of interest, sharing his name and other information publicly was a serious step.

The July 4 shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find cause to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.

"It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference.

“I’m furious because it does not have to be this way... while we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become a weekly — yes, weekly — American tradition."


UPDATE 3:30 p.m.

A gunman on a rooftop opened fire on an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago on Monday, killing at least six people, wounding at least 30 and sending hundreds of marchers, parents with strollers and children on bicycles fleeing in terror, police said. The suspect remained on the loose hours later as authorities scoured the area.

Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said Monday afternoon that police have identified 22-year-old Robert E. Crimo III as a person of interest and cautioned he should be considered armed and dangerous. Police declined to answer questions about how they identified Crimo. Authorities described his car as a silver Honda Fit with an Illinois license plate DM 80653.

The July 4 shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find cause to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.

Mayor Nancy Rotering said the violence “has shaken us to our core,” adding, "On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we are instead mourning the tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us.”

The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had staked out prime viewing points early in the day for the annual celebration. Dozens of fired bullets sent hundreds of parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fleeing. They left a trail of abandoned items that showed everyday life suddenly, violently disrupted: A half-eaten bag of potato chips; a box of chocolate cookies spilled onto the grass; a child’s Chicago Cubs cap.

“There’s no safe place,” said Highland Park resident Barbara Harte, 73, who had stayed away from the parade fearing a mass shooting, but later ventured from her home.

Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said at a news conference “several of the deceased victims” died at the scene and one was taken to a hospital and died there. Police have not released details about the victims or wounded.

Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said the five people killed at the parade were adults and she doesn't have information on the sixth victim who was taken to a hospital and died there.

Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director for North American affairs, said on Twitter Monday that one Mexican national was killed in Highland Park and added that two other Mexicans were wounded.

Dr. Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness for NorthShore University Health Center, said the Highland Park hospital received 26 patients after the attack and all but one had gunshot wounds. Their ages ranged from 8 to 85, and Temple estimated that four or five patients were children.

He said 19 of them were treated and discharged. Others were transferred to other hospitals, while two patients, in stable condition, remained at the Highland Park hospital.


UPDATE 11:21 a.m.

At least six people died and 24 were wounded in a shooting at a July Fourth parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, and officers are searching for a suspect who likely fired on the festivities from a rooftop, police said Monday.

Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill, the incident commander on scene, urged people to shelter in place as authorities search for the suspect, described as a white male wearing a white or blue T-shirt.

Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said at a news conference that the gunman apparently opened fire on parade-goers from a rooftop using a rifle that was recovered at the scene. He didn’t know which building.

Covelli said police believe there was only one shooter and warned that he should still be considered armed and dangerous.

Police have not released any details about the victims or wounded.

The parade began around 10 a.m. but it was suddenly halted about 10 minutes later after shots were fired. Hundreds of parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fled the parade route, leaving behind chairs, baby strollers, plush toys, bicycles and blankets.

Police told people: “Everybody disperse, please. It is not safe to be here.”

Highland Park Police said in a statement early Monday afternoon that five people had been killed and 19 people were taken to hospitals. but those numbers were revised soon after at the news conference.


UPDATE 11:05 a.m.

At least five people are dead and 19 were taken to hospitals after a shooting at a July Fourth parade in a Chicago suburb, and officers are searching for a suspect, police said Monday.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the parade began around 10 a.m. but it was suddenly halted 10 minutes later after shots were fired. A Sun-Times reporter saw blankets placed over three bloodied bodies. Several witnesses told the newspaper that they heard gunfire.

Hundreds of parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fled the parade route, leaving behind chairs, baby strollers and blankets.

Police told people: “Everybody disperse, please. It is not safe to be here.”

Highland Park Police said in a statement early Monday afternoon that five people had been killed and 19 people were taken to hospitals. It was unclear if the five dead were among the 19 hospitalized.

The police said authorities are still searching for the suspect.

Video shot by a Sun-Times journalist after the gunfire rang out shows a band on a float continuing to play as people run past, screaming. A photo posted to social media appeared to show pools of blood near upturned chairs in downtown Highland Park.

Gina Troiani and her son were lined up with his daycare class ready to walk onto the parade route when she heard a loud sound that she believed was fireworks — until she heard people yell about a shooter.

“We just start running in the opposite direction,” she told The Associated Press.

Her 5-year-old son was riding his bike decorated with red and blue curled ribbons. He and other children in the group held small American flags. The city said on it’s website that the festivities were to include a children’s bike and pet parade.

Troiani said she pushed her son’s bike, running through the neighborhood to get back to their car.

In a video that Troiani shot on her phone, some of the kids are visibly startled at the loud noise and they scramble to the side of the road as a siren wails nearby.

It was just sort of chaos,” she said. “There were people that got separated from their families, looking for them. Others just dropped their wagons, grabbed their kids and started running.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a tweet that he is “closely monitoring the situation in Highland Park” and that Illinois State Police are assisting. The ISP said in an email that it was assisting in the response to an active shooter reported around 10:24 a.m.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter that it is assisting Highland Park Police “with a shooting in the area of the Independence Day parade route.” The sheriff’s office directed an AP reporter to contact Highland Park Police. The Police Department said no one was immediately available to comment.

Debbie Glickman, a Highland Park resident, said she was on a parade float with coworkers and the group was preparing to turn onto the main route when she saw people running from the area.

“People started saying: ‘There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter, there's a shooter,’” Glickman told the Associated Press. “So we just ran. We just ran. It’s like mass chaos down there.”

She didn’t hear any noises or see anyone who appeared to be injured.

“I’m so freaked out,” she said. “It’s just so sad.”


ORIGINAL 9:40 a.m.

Police are responding to a shooting at a July Fourth parade in a Chicago suburb, authorities said Monday.

Authorities have not officially reported any casualties, but witnesses described seeing bloodied bodies apparently covered with blankets.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the parade began around 10 a.m. but was suddenly halted 10 minutes later after shots were fired. Several witnesses told the newspaper that they heard gunfire.

Hundreds of parade-goers — some visibly bloodied — fled the parade route, leaving behind chairs, baby strollers and blankets.

A Sun-Times reporter saw blankets placed over three bloodied bodies.

Police told people: “Everybody disburse, please. It is not safe to be here.”

Debbie Glickman, a Highland Park resident, said she was on a parade float with coworkers and the group was prepared to turn onto the main route when she saw people running away from the area.

“People started saying ‘There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter, there a shooter,’” Glickman told the Associated Press. “So we just ran. We just ran. It’s like mass chaos down there.”

She didn’t hear any noises or see anyone who appeared to be injured.

“I’m so freaked out,” she said. “It’s just so sad.”

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter that it is assisting Highland Park Police “with a shooting in the area of the Independence Day parade route.”

The sheriff’s office directed an AP reporter to contact Highland Park Police. The Police Department said no one was immediately available to discuss the incident.

City leaders said on Twitter that “Police are responding to an incident in downtown Highland Park. Fourth Fest has been canceled. Please avoid downtown Highland Park. More information will be shared as it becomes available.”

The city said on it's website that the parade would feature floats, marching bands, novelty groups, community entries and other special entertainment. A children’s bike and pet parade also was scheduled to start 30 minutes before the main parade.



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