More than 1,000 pages of emails sent and received by Highland Park city employees during the six hours following the deadly 4th of July mass shooting reveal new details about the chaos that unfolded, as well as the offers of assistance and advice that they arrived. of the community
The final lineup of the parade obtained by NBC 5 Investigates shows the event had only reached entry number eight of 64, the Highland Park High School band, when the gunfire began around 10:14 a.m.
Emails obtained by NBC 5 Investigates paint a vivid picture of the hours that followed, beginning with the first messages arriving at 10:24 a.m., just minutes after the shooting. One of those initial emails is the first of several from the media asking about “reports of possible shooting.” Over the next six hours, various city employees received more than 80 inquiries from dozens of journalists, from both local and national news organizations, as well as international outlets from as far away as Canada and even New Zealand.
Also at 10:24 am, the first email came in offering assistance from a crime analyst with the Skokie Police Department. Several others arrived throughout the day from communities throughout the Chicagoland area, including Lake Zurich, Westmont, Warrenville, Northfield and more.
At 11:11 a.m., the Illinois State Terrorism and Intelligence Center sent out a bulletin notifying its email distribution list that it “received information on an active shooter” and “the situation is rapidly evolving.”
Then, at 11:17 a.m., a general message was issued requesting all Northern Illinois Police Alarm System personnel and vehicles to assist Highland Park Police by providing a staging location “in case that we are needed for a search for suspects.
A minute later, the Highland Park city manager informs the mayor and city council members that all holiday festivities have been cancelled, a perimeter has been set up around downtown, the FBI has been notified, and the shooter is still not under arrest. custody.
The first email indicating event cancellations in the area came just before 12 pm, when Northbrook sent out an email notifying that its own parade and fireworks had been canceled. Several more followed suit: Evanston, Glenview, Winnetka and others. Some like Glencoe and Lake Forest advised residents to stay home or indoors while the shooter was still at large.
After Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill spoke shortly before 1 p.m. as the chase continued.
A person at 3:10 p.m. sent their video to police, saying it was taken as they crouched with their children and father for cover behind two parked cars.
“What a horrible and terrifying morning,” the insider wrote. “I hope you catch the monster.”
Minutes later, a Wilmette resident sent out a post found on social media, stating “you can hear the shooting over the band playing about 5-7 seconds into the video.”
Another video submission notes that it is relevant “in terms of the number of shots fired,” which police later revealed to be more than 80.
Throughout the afternoon, other offers of assistance poured in from members of a club no one wants to join: law enforcement officials who had previously seen their own communities at mass casualty events.
At 1:26 pm, the Waukesha City Manager reached out to offer assistance and consultation after running his city’s emergency operations following his own deadly tragedy at a Christmas parade last year.
In an unrelated message just three minutes later, gun violence prevention group Everytown sent Highland Park’s mayor resources that the organization said “we know other mayors have found helpful after a mass shooting,” including a protocol for the first 24 hours and a 200-plus-page “mass shooting playbook” that was “developed in collaboration with mayors whose communities have experienced mass shootings.”
At 1:57 p.m., a representative of the International Association of Chiefs of Police sent a note offering assistance from the organization’s Mass Violence Counseling Initiative, a program that “provides immediate peer-to-peer assistance to tasked leaders of enforcing the law after an incident of mass violence”. ”, enclosing brochures that include a list of their experts. The group’s advisory team includes officials who have led their communities during high-profile mass shootings at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, the Pulse nightclub, Parkland, the Las Vegas music festival shooting and more.
The latest email obtained is a message sent by the city at 4:07 p.m., noting that the investigation into the shooting was ongoing, the parade route “remains an active crime scene,” and officials “strongly recommend ” that residents continue to shelter in place. The note once again asked anyone with knowledge of the incident or photographic or video evidence to share their information.
Around 6:45 pm, the announcement was made: the suspect had been taken into custody.
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