By GRANT SCHULTE, CLAIRE SAVAGE and HARM VENHUIZEN Associated Press
The photo of Aiden McCarthy was shared across Chicago-area social media groups in the hours after the July 4 parade shooting in Highland Park, accompanied by requests to help identify the 2-year-old, who was bloodied and alone had been found at the scene and to reunite him with his family.
On Tuesday, friends and authorities confirmed that the boy’s parents, Kevin McCarthy, 37, and Irina McCarthy, 35, were among the seven people killed in the tragedy.
“At two years old, Aiden is in an unthinkable position; growing up without his parents,” Irina Colon wrote on a GoFundMe account she created for the family and Aiden, who was reunited with his grandparents Monday night.
Friends of the McCarthys said Irina’s parents would take care of the boy in the future.
Four others killed were identified Tuesday as Katherine Goldstein, 64; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; Stephen Strauss, 88; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78. Each victim was from Highland Park, except for Toledo-Zaragoza, who was visiting a family in the city from Morelos, Mexico.
Officials have not yet identified the seventh victim.
Portraits of some of the dead emerged Tuesday as investigators continued to look for evidence of the shooting that killed at least seven people and wounded 30.
Irina McCarthy’s childhood friend, Angela Vella, described McCarthy as funny, likeable and “a bit of a tomboy” who still liked to dress up.
“She definitely had her own style, which I’ve always admired,” Vella said in a brief interview.
Straus, a financial adviser from Chicago, was one of the first observers at the parade and attended every year, his grandchildren said.
Brothers Maxwell and Tobias Straus described their grandfather as a kind and active man who loved to walk, bike, and attend community events.
“The way he lived, you might think he was still middle-aged,” Maxwell Straus said in an interview.
The two brothers recalled Sunday dinners with their grandparents as a popular tradition. They said they ate with him the night before he died.
“America’s gun culture kills grandparents,” said Maxwell Straus. “It’s just awful.”
Sundheim, meanwhile, was spoiled as a lifelong parishioner and “beloved” staff member at the North Shore Congregation Israel, where she had worked for decades, according to the Reform Synagogue on its website. Sundheim taught in the synagogue’s preschool and coordinated events such as bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies.
“Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all,” synagogue leaders wrote in a message on their website. “There are no words sufficient to express the depth of our sadness at Jacki’s death and our condolences to her family and loved ones.”
Toledo-Zaragoza was killed on what his 23-year-old granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, described as a “fun family day” that “turned into a terrible nightmare for all of us”.
Posting on a GoFundMe page to raise money for Toledo’s funeral expenses, Xochil Toledo said her grandfather was a “loving man, creative, adventurous and funny.”
“As a family, we’re broken, numb,” she said.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Toledo-Zaragoza came to Illinois about two months ago to visit his family. His family wanted him to stay permanently due to injuries he sustained after being hit by a car on a previous visit to Highland Park a few years ago. The newspaper reported that he was hit by three bullets on Monday and died at the scene.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to take part in the parade because of the large crowd and his limited mobility, which had him dependent on a walker, but Xochil Toledo said the family didn’t want to leave him alone.
Katherine Goldstein’s husband described her as a light-hearted travel companion who was always willing to visit far-flung places.
“She hasn’t complained,” Craig Goldstein told the New York Times. “She was always there.”
Goldstein was the mother of two daughters in their early 20s, Cassie and Alana. She attended the parade with her older daughter so Cassie could reconnect with friends from high school, Craig Goldstein, a hospital doctor, told the newspaper.
dr Goldstein said his wife recently lost her mother and was concerned about what kind of arrangements she might want when she dies.
He recalled that Katherine, an avid bird watcher, said she wanted to be cremated and had her remains scattered around the Montrose Beach area of Chicago, where there is a bird sanctuary.
Schulte reported from Omaha, Nebraska. Savage reported from Chicago. Venhuizen reported from Madison, Wisconsin. Associated Press reporter Christopher Weber contributed from Los Angeles.