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Mass. family narrowly escaped Highland Park shooting

“I honestly thought it was firecrackers, someone just playing a joke."

Bicycles remain along the sidewalk after parade-goers fled Downtown Highland Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, after a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade on Monday, July 4, 2022. Mary Mathis/The New York Times

A Southborough family visiting grandparents in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park was among those seeking cover when a gunman started firing down from a rooftop during a Fourth of July parade Monday.

Highland Park:

“I honestly thought it was firecrackers, someone just playing a joke,” Shawn Cotreau told WCVB. “And then next thing I turned and looked backwards, and I see a guy with a rifle and a gun at the corner of the building just shooting down at everybody — and the bullets were hitting the tree right in front of us. I just kind of stood there for a second. My wife screamed: ‘Get up! Get up! Run! Get up! Run!'”

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Cotreau; his wife, Jacqueline; and their three sons, Cole, 11, Dylan, 9, and Cash, 2, were visiting Jacqueline’s parents for the holiday, as they do every year, according to WCVB.

The family had been sitting in chairs along the parade route, an estimated 20 feet or so away from the gunman when he opened fire, The New York Times reported.

“I can’t even get the image of the guy out of my head,” Cotreau explained to The New York Times, recalling that he had a large gun and a hat concealing his face. “He was just opening up fire. And I saw the bullets hitting the tree that was like literally in front of us.”

The Cotreaus were lucky to escape physically unharmed.

“My kids, they’re shaken,” Cotreau told People on Monday. “They don’t want to leave the house.”

Seven people were killed and more than three dozen injured in the mass shooting that shook the affluent suburb located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Robert Crimo III, who police said contemplated a second shooting while on the run in Madison, Wisconsin, was charged with seven counts of murder Tuesday.

“I thought it was fireworks,” Cotreau said in an interview with CBS Chicago. “There was a guy in a gray-brownish uniform with a hat on pulled down, and you can see the shots firing off the tree,” Cotreau said. “He was pointing downward, toward the street.”

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See below for more from Cotreau’s conversation with CBS Chicago:

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