Uneasy US tries to fete a July 4 marred by parade shooting
In this still image from video, a man runs for cover with a child in a stroller after gunfire was heard at the Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Monday morning, July 4, 2022. (Lynn Sweet/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

CHICAGO, United States — A shooting that left at least six people dead at an Independence Day parade in a Chicago suburb rattled Monday’s celebrations across the US and further rocked a country already awash in turmoil over high court rulings on abortion and guns as well as hearings on the January 6 insurrection.

Police also said 19 people were hospitalised after the shooting in Highland Park. Authorities asked residents to shelter in place while they search for the suspect.

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

News of yet another mass shooting came as the nation tried to find cause to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together. It was supposed to be a day for taking off work, flocking to parades, devouring hot dogs and burgers at backyard barbecues and gathering under a canopy of stars and exploding fireworks.

“The Fourth of July is a sacred day in our country — it’s a time to celebrate the goodness of our nation, the only nation on Earth founded based on an idea: that all people are created equal,” President Joe Biden tweeted earlier on Monday. “Make no mistake, our best days still lie ahead.”

But the shooting in Highland Park left a chaotic, discordant July 4 scene.

These are precarious times: An economic recession lurks, and the Highland Park shooting will weigh on a national psyche already raw from mass shootings like those seen recently at a Texas elementary school and a New York supermarket.

Sharp social and political divisions have also been laid bare by recent Supreme Court decisions overturning the constitutional right to abortion and striking down a New York law limiting who may carry a gun in public.

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