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Parents of 2-year-old boy found alone in shooting among dead


Members of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team investigate in downtown Highland Park, Illinois the day after a deadly mass shooting Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Police say the shooter who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago fired over 70 rounds with an AR-15 type pistol. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
The Associated Press

Aiden McCarthy’s photo was shared on Chicago-area social media groups in the hours after the 4th of July parade shooting in Highland Park, along with calls to help identify the 2-year-old years who had been found at the scene bloodied and alone and to reunite him with his family.

On Tuesday, friends and authorities confirmed the boy’s parents, Kevin McCarthy, 37, and Irina McCarthy, 35, were among seven people killed in the tragedy.

“At two years old, Aiden finds himself in an unthinkable position; growing up without her parents,” Irina Colon wrote on a GoFundMe account she set up for the family and Aiden, who was reunited with her grandparents Monday night.

Friends of the McCarthys said that Irina’s parents will take care of the boy in the future.

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Four of the others killed were identified Tuesday as Katherine Goldstein, 64; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; Etienne Straus, 88; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78 years old. All of the victims were from Highland Park except for Toledo-Zaragoza, who was visiting family in the city of Morelos, Mexico.

Authorities have yet to identify the seventh victim.

Portraits of some of those who died began to appear on Tuesday as investigators continued to search for evidence in the shooting that left at least seven people dead and 30 injured.

Irina McCarthy’s childhood friend Angela Vella described McCarthy as fun, lovable and “a bit of a tomboy” who always liked to dress up.

“She definitely had her own style, which I always admired,” Vella said in a short interview.

Straus, a financial adviser from Chicago, was an early observer of the parade and has attended every year, his grandchildren said.

Brothers Maxwell and Tobias Straus described their grandfather as a kind and active man who enjoyed walking, biking and attending community events.

“The way he lived life, you would think he was still middle-aged,” Maxwell Straus said in an interview.

Both brothers recalled Sunday night dinners with their grandparents as a favorite tradition. They said they ate with him the day before he died.

“American gun culture kills grandparents,” said Maxwell Straus. “It’s just awful.”

Sundheim, meanwhile, was regaled as a lifelong devotee and “beloved” staff member of North Shore Congregation Israel, where she had worked for decades, the Reform synagogue said on its website. Sundheim taught at the synagogue’s preschool and coordinated events including bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies.

“Jacki’s hard work, kindness and warmth touched us all,” the synagogue leaders wrote in a post on their website. “There are not enough words to express the depth of our grief over Jacki’s death and our sympathy for her family and loved ones.”

Toledo-Zaragoza was killed in what his 23-year-old granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, said was a “fun family day” that “turned into a horrible nightmare for all of us”.

On a GoFundMe page to raise money for Toledo’s funeral expenses, Xochil Toledo said his grandfather was a “loving, creative, adventurous and funny man”.

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

Toledo-Zaragoza had come to Illinois to visit family about two months ago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. His family wanted him to stay permanently because of injuries he suffered after being hit by a car a few years ago on a previous visit to Highland Park. The newspaper reported that he was hit by three bullets on Monday and died at the scene.

He wasn’t sure he wanted to attend the parade due to the large crowds and his limited mobility, which required him to use a walker, but Xochil Toledo said the family didn’t want to leave him alone.

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


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