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Illinois Rep. Brad Schneider reacts to shooting in his district

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

There has been yet another mass shooting. This one took place earlier today in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park. People were lining the streets to watch the local Fourth of July parade when a gunman opened fire. At least six are dead, and dozens more are injured. A massive manhunt is now underway to find the unidentified shooter. In a statement, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker responded to the attack saying, quote, "there are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community."

One of the people planning to march in this morning's parade was Illinois Congressman Brad Schneider. He lives in Highland Park, and he joins us now. Welcome, Congressman. And I'm very, very sorry for what has happened.

BRAD SCHNEIDER: Thank you for having me.

CHANG: So I understand that you and members of your staff were gathering at the front of the parade at the time. Can you just describe what happened as far as you could see and what additional details you've learned since from officials?

SCHNEIDER: Thank you. So, yeah, we were at the very beginning. This is actually one of five parades that I and my team do on the Fourth of July. And the team was gathered at the very beginning. Not - we hadn't started on the parade route yet. Parade had started maybe 10 minutes earlier when the shots rang out, and people immediately dispersed and sought safety. We checked to make sure everyone was accounted for on the team and then started working and seeing what we could do to help with our community. I reached out to the mayor and other people to see what was going on.

But this is devastating. And it's not just the shooters, as mayor - our Governor Pritzker said. This is a monster, a murderer who - on what is a celebratory day. Every year, thousands gather on a parade route to honor and celebrate our nation's birthday. He shattered that with I don't know how many rounds, killing six people and severely wounding - grievously wounding 24 others.

CHANG: And what is the atmosphere tonight like in Highland Park? I understand you're sheltering somewhere because the shooter is at large.

SCHNEIDER: Yeah. I - my wife and I are at home at our neighbors. We've talked to several of them. I think, at the beginning, this morning - and this happened, you know, before 10:30 - the feeling was disbelief - how could this happen? - and not understanding the full scale. As the day has progressed, I'm understanding that this was a high-powered assault weapon, that six people have been murdered. Others are in critical condition. The community is in grief - grief and shock. And it's going to be a long time as we work to process this.

CHANG: Now, you tweeted that you are committed to doing everything you can to make children, your towns, your nation safer. Can you give us an idea of what you can do as a member of Congress working alongside a very divided Senate right now?

SCHNEIDER: You know, the challenge is the Senate. I know we can - I came to Congress in - first elected in 2012. We were going through orientation - was when the Sandy Hook shooting happened. I thought after that, we were going to be able to take positive steps to try to reduce gun violence in our nation. In 2019 and again in 2021, the House passed the universal background checks legislation that would make sure that people who shouldn't have a gun can't get one. I think we just have to continue to show resolve and find people who will work with us to make our communities safer, our kids safer.

CHANG: That was Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider of Highland Park, Ill., speaking to us about today's mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade. Thank you very much for your time, Congressman.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Erika Ryan
Erika Ryan is a producer for All Things Considered. She joined NPR after spending 4 years at CNN, where she worked for various shows and CNN.com in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Ryan began her career in journalism as a print reporter covering arts and culture. She's a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and currently lives in Washington, D.C., with her dog, Millie.
Kathryn Fox
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