Toddler found alone after Highland Park parade shooting was orphaned in attack

Community raises more than $2m to help young Aidan McCarthy

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A 2-year-old boy who was found wandering alone after the July 4 mass shooting in Illinois was by himself because both his parents had been killed, it was revealed on Wednesday.

Aidan McCarthy’s parents, Irina and Kevin McCarthy, were among the seven people killed when a gunman dressed in women's clothes opened fire from a rooftop at the Independence Day parade in Highland Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago.

In the aftermath of the shooting, in which dozens more were injured, pictures of Aidan spread on social media with pleas to help identify him after he was found alone. He has now been united with his grandparents.

The community rallied around the toddler, raising more than $2.2 million on GoFundMe to help support him and his family.

“At 2 years old, Aiden is left in the unthinkable position; to grow up without his parents,” a statement on the GoFundMe page reads.

“Aiden will be cared for by his loving family and he will have a long road ahead to heal, find stability and ultimately navigate life as an orphan. He is surrounded by a community of friends and extended family that will embrace him with love, and any means available to ensure he has everything he needs as he grows.”

US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the site of the attack on Tuesday evening and met local politicians and police.

She had earlier called on Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons.

“We need to end this horror, we need to stop this violence,” Ms Harris said in a speech at the National Education Association's annual meeting.

“An assault weapon is designed to kill a lot of human beings quickly. There is no reason that we have weapons of war on the streets of America. We need reasonable gun safety laws."

Suspect expected in court

Police arrested Robert Crimo, 21, on Monday. He faces seven counts of first-degree murder. If convicted, he would face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

He was able to legally purchase five weapons, including the semi-automatic rifle used in the shooting.

Police on Tuesday said Mr Crimo planned the attack for weeks and wore women's clothing to blend into the fleeing crowd.

In April 2019, police were called to Mr Crimo's residence after someone said he had attempted suicide.

“The matter was being handled by mental health professionals at that time,” said Christopher Covelli, Deputy Chief of the Lake County Sheriff's Department. "There was no law enforcement action to be taken."

Police were called to the residence again in September 2019 after a family member reported that Mr Crimo had said he “was going to kill everyone”.

At the time, police removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from his home — but they did not arrest him.

“There was no probable cause to arrest him,” Deputy Chief Covelli said. "There were no complaints that were signed by any of the victims."

Despite these encounters, and Illinois “red flag” laws, designed to prevent people with violent backgrounds from purchasing guns, Mr Crimo was able to buy several weapons. He was expected to appear in court later on Wednesday.

Monday's shooting was the latest to rock the US.

A string of mass shootings included a racist attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, which killed 10 people, and another at a primary school in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed.

Updated: July 07, 2022, 3:10 PM
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