Parents of boy, 2, found alone among dead in parade shooting

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(AP) – 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 had been found bloody and gory at the scene to be alone 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 dead in the tragedy.

“At two years old, Aiden is in an unthinkable position; growing up without his parents,” wrote Irina Colon 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.

WARNING: Videos contain graphic content that viewers may find disturbing.

The investigation into the mass shooting at Highland Park continues. (Credit: CNN/NETWORK VIDEO PRODUCTIONS/HIGHLAND PARK POLICE DEPARTMENT/RAINAN LOWREY/WLS/WBBM)

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 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 killed at least seven and wounded 30.

Irina McCarthy’s childhood friend, Angela Vella, described McCarthy as funny, personable 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.

GRAPHIC: One arrest was made in the deadly July 4 shooting in Illinois. (CNN, WLS, HIGHLAND PARK PD, NETWORK VIDEO PRODUCTIONS, RAINAN LOWREY, RYAN LERMAN)

“America’s gun culture is killing 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”.

On one GoFundMe page To raise money for Toledo’s funeral expenses, Xochil Toledo said her grandfather was a “loving man, creative, adventurous and fun”.

“As a family, we’re broken, numb,” she said.

A father says he was hiding his son in a dumpster when a gunman opened fire at a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois. (WLS)

Toledo-Zaragoza reportedly came to Illinois about two months ago to visit his family the Chicago Sun Times. 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.

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Schulte reported from Omaha, Nebraska. Savage reported from Chicago. Venhuizen reported from Madison, Wisconsin.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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