HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. —
Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday visited the Illinois city where seven people were slain in a mass shooting during a Fourth of July parade, telling residents that “we’ve got to be smarter as a country in terms of who has access to what, and, in particular, to assault weapons.”
“There’s no question that this experience is gonna linger with trauma,” Harris said, standing near the site of the massacre that occurred a day earlier. “I’d like to urge all the families and all the individuals to do seek the support that you so rightly deserve. … We are here for you and to stand with you.”
Harris was scheduled to be in Chicago to give a speech at the National Education Assn.‘s annual convention. In her remarks to the association, Harris lamented how “yesterday should have been a day to come together with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s independence.”
Instead, she said, Highland Park “suffered a violent tragedy. Children, parents, grandparents — victims to a senseless act of gun violence.”
Harris used the speech to also highlight another recent tragedy — the mass shooting in May at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen children and two teachers were slain in that attack.
“Teachers should not have to practice barricading a classroom,” she said. “Teachers should not have to know how to treat a gunshot wound. And teachers should not be told that ‘Lives would have been saved if only you had a gun.’”
The shooting in Uvalde put intense pressure on lawmakers to address gun violence and resulted in a rare piece of bipartisan legislation that toughened background checks and is designed to make it easier to confiscate firearms from those deemed to be dangerous.
“We have made some progress,” Harris said. “But we have to do more.”
Following her speech at the convention, Harris headed to Highland Park, about 30 miles north of downtown Chicago. She met briefly with police officers and the city’s mayor, Nancy Rotering, as well as other public officials. The vice president promised them that the federal government would provide whatever resources the city of 30,000 residents needed.
Local police said they were continuing to gather evidence in the shooting, which took place during Highland Park’s annual Fourth of July parade.
Within hours of the attack, police apprehended a suspect they identified as Robert E. Crimo III, 21, of Highwood, Ill. Crimo has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting. Police said they believe Crimo fired at least 70 rounds at the crowd from the rooftop of a commercial building. More than 30 people were injured in the fusillade of bullets.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.