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Remembrances pour in for victims of Highland Park shooting

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

What was supposed to be a fun family day turned into a horrific nightmare for us all. Those are the words from the granddaughters of Nicolas Toledo, one of at least seven victims of a shooting yesterday in Highland Park, Ill. Toledo is remembered as a sweet and caring grandfather. Another victim, Jacki Sundheim, is also remembered for her warmth, along with her dedication to her local synagogue. Late this afternoon, we also learned the names of four more victims - 64-year-old Katherine Goldstein, 35-year-old Irina McCarthy, 37-year-old Kevin McCarthy and 88-year-old Stephen Straus.

More details are still emerging, and we want to take a moment now to hear more about what we do know. And to do that, we're joined now by WBEZ reporter Susie An, who is in Highland Park. Welcome.

SUSIE AN, BYLINE: Hello.

CHANG: So I know that law enforcement in Lake County, Ill., just confirmed a seventh death this afternoon. They have the suspected gunman in custody after hours of searching yesterday. Can you just tell us - what is the mood like right now among survivors and the overall community in Highland Park right now?

AN: It is just utter disbelief. You know, anyone that I've talked to has said they cannot believe something like this would happen in their community. This community is known for being a safe and secure suburban town. And so people are just in shock. Some people just feel like they aren't even able to process at the moment. It's just so raw at the moment for a lot of people.

CHANG: Yeah. And can you tell us - what else have you learned about the victims who have been publicly identified by family members so far?

AN: I will be speaking to Mr. Toledo's family later on this afternoon. But, you know, as you mentioned, he is a man in his late 70s who was visiting from Mexico. And so he was just there with his family. The parade was a happy time for them. And so this was just a great shock.

Jacki was very much part of the community. Highland Park has a large Jewish community. She was very active in her synagogue. And I ran into someone who just happened to know her because her children attend the synagogue, and she was one of their teachers. And so it's just a great shock for everyone.

CHANG: And do you know how the two of them will be remembered in the Highland Park community, like how they're being remembered these days? Are there vigils at the moment for each of them?

AN: Well, there is several vigils in general. There was one earlier today. I am standing outside of a church for a second prayer vigil. This is very much geared towards the community. They want it to be more of a private community event, so they don't want the cameras in there. And I know that there are several planned as the week continues. And, of course, the town is setting up mental health services for anyone who needs that at this time.

CHANG: That is WBEZ reporter Susie An in Highland Park, Ill., covering what the community is grappling with in the moments and days ahead after a mass shooting yesterday during a Fourth of July parade. Thank you so much, Susie.

AN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As a reporter for WBEZ's news desk, Susie produces content for daily newscasts and WBEZ's website. She also anchors, occasionally, delivering news on WBEZ. She directed WBEZ's Schools on the Line monthly call-in show. Her work has also been heard on NPR, CBC and BBC. Susie joined WBEZ as a news desk intern in September 2007. Prior to joining WBEZ, Susie worked at the Peoria Journal Star newspaper and worked as an acquisitions editor for Publications International,Ltd.
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