The tragedy, in a country still reeling from a recent series of deadly shootings, took place around 10:15 a.m. (3:15 p.m. GMT) in Highland Park, an affluent suburb of the metropolis located in the north of the United States. At least 24 injured were taken care of by the emergency services.

Hundreds of police have been deployed to this town of 30,000 people, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, to find the author of the shots, a young white man who was not immediately identified.

Saying he was “shocked”, Democratic President Joe Biden promised in a statement to continue the fight against “the epidemic of gun violence” after this new bloodbath.

Early in the morning, hundreds of people, including many families with children, had taken their places on the sidewalks of Highland Park to attend, as in all the United States, the traditional parade of the American Independence Day, a public holiday early summer.

As high school marching bands marched through the streets, a flurry of gunfire rang out. “We heard about 50 gunshots, we all thought it was fireworks,” a woman who witnessed the tragedy, who only gave her first name Zoe, commented on CNN.

“At one point I saw a girl covered in blood, I had never seen that,” she added, describing a “sea of ​​panic with people falling one after another.”

– “Armed and dangerous” –

The shootings and the stampede claimed many victims. “As of now, we know that at least six people have died” and “that 24 have been taken to hospital,” city mayor Nancy Rotering said at a press conference.

“As we came together to celebrate our freedom, we must mourn the tragic loss of life and overcome our terror,” she lamented.

A “powerful” rifle was found, but the suspect, “considered armed and dangerous” remains on the run, said the police, who called on the population to stay safe until his arrest.

“Firearm-related evidence was found on the roof of a nearby business,” said Christopher Covelli, a county police spokesman, implying that the shooter acted from that point. raised.

The man is “approximately 18 to 20 years old, long black hair and a white or blue t-shirt,” local police official Chris O’Neill said, calling on the public to forward all photos and videos of the drama to help identify it.

In images of the city broadcast on television channels, we see the police, some of them in military fatigues, driving through empty streets, where the sidewalks are covered with camping chairs and strollers abandoned in panic .

Adrienne Drell was watching a high school marching band when a man sounded the alarm. “It was panic all over the city,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We are totally stunned.”

The parade was immediately suspended and festivities were canceled in several nearby towns.

The United States is still reeling from a series of shootings, including one in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, which left 21 people dead, including 19 children.

The country is more generally facing an increase in gun violence with more than 22,000 people killed since the beginning of the year, according to the website Gun Violence Archive, which includes suicides in its data.