“We know of 22 injured victims and one victim killed by gunfire. Several other victims were also injured as they tried to flee the area,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. Authorities did not immediately release the conditions of the injured.
The reason for the attack was not immediately known and no one was arrested in the early afternoon. Sheriff’s spokesman Robert Carroll said authorities were interviewing « interested people » in the shooting, the Daily Herald reported.
Police were in the mall before the shooting monitoring the gathering but were called back due to a fight nearby, the sheriff’s office said. « They heard shots and immediately returned to the scene, » the sheriff’s office said.
“We have transported numerous victims from the scene. Others just checked into area hospitals,” said Eric Swanson, deputy chief of the sheriff’s office.
Rick Wagner, who lives nearby, said there were at least 300 people in the parking lot by 10:30 p.m. « We’ve had multiple conversations with police » about large groups meeting there, Wagner told the Daily Herald.
A witness, Markeshia Avery, said it was a June 16 celebration. Monday is the federal holiday commemorating the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned they had been freed, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“We just started hearing the shots, so we went down until they stopped,” Avery told WLS-TV.
Another witness, Craig Lotcie, said: « Everyone ran off and it was chaos. »
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement that he was monitoring the investigation.
« Gathering for a holiday gathering should be a joyous occasion, not a time when gunfire erupts and families are forced to run for their lives, » Pritzker said.
The White House released a statement Sunday afternoon, saying, “The President and First Lady are thinking about those who were killed and wounded in the shooting in Illinois last night. We sought to offer assistance to state and local leaders in the wake of this tragedy during a June 18 community celebration.”