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‘You don’t expect it in your own community': Highland Park chief describes July 4 shooting

Chief Joe Schrage said 30+ firefighters responded, EMS providers transported 24 people, and the department made trauma counselors available


A police officer reacts as he walks in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, Monday, July 4, 2022, where a mass shooting took place at a Highland Park Fourth of July parade.

Photo/Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

By Leila Merrill

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — Highland Park Fire Chief Joe Schrage addressed the July 4 shooting that killed seven people and injured dozens.

“We ultimately saw it was a shooter on the roof,” Scharge told NBC Chicago. “You don’t expect it in your own community.”

He said most of the firefighters participating in the parade were off duty and in plain clothes.

“We were past where the scene was,” Schrage told CBS Chicago, saying that firefighters dropped off family members and hurried to the scene.

“There was a little bit of frightening moments, not knowing where the shooter is, but yet still working,” Schrage said.

The chief said at least 30 members of the department worked at the scene, some treating patients.

“Fortunately, we had bystanders on scene that actually had been medically trained as well,” Schrage said. “They grabbed tourniquets from us. They were grabbing IV kits from us and assisting.”

Dispatchers answered more than 400 calls that day. Brent Reynolds, director of Public Safety Support Services, said that many dispatchers came in to work on their day off.

Fire department EMS providers transported 24 people who were injured or shot. One ambulance crew made three runs.

“We lost seven. We’re upset. We’re mourning. We mourn with the community,” Schrage said. “But we did save a lot of lives that day.”

The department has had trauma counselors available to help firefighters at station 33.

Members of the community have left thank-you notes and have set up a food truck to cook meals for first responders.