Toddler Found Wandering After Highland Park Shooting Is Now an Orphan After Both Parents Killed by Sniper
Aiden McCarthy was found wandering alone after the Highland Park mass shooting. His mother and father have been confirmed as two of seven people killed.
Little Aiden McCarthy was found wandering alone, bloodied and confused, in the carnage left by the Highland Park July 4th parade shooting. A couple found him with a shell-shocked stranger, and gently carried the 2-year-old to a fire station.
"Mama, dada come get me soon," he told the couple. "Mommy's car come to get me soon," the child said when asked his name.
Aiden is now an orphan, his parents confirmed among the seven killed by a sniper who fired round after round from a high-powered rifle into a crowd lining the main thoroughfare of a Chicago suburb celebrating the nation's birthday.
A GoFundMe page established for the motherless and fatherless child has raised more than $2 million as of Wednesday for the toddler, who is now "left in the unthinkable position; to grow up without his parents," wrote Irina Colon on the account she created for the family and Aiden, who was reunited with his grandparents Monday evening after social media ignited with photos of the boy as authorities desperately searched for his relatives.
While alleged shooter Robert "Bobby" Crimo III appeared in court Wednesday, charged with seven counts of murder and a slew of other charges, images and details have surfaced of the victims. The McCarthys, both in their 30s, a beloved great-grandfather who died in his wheelchair, and a lifelong congregant and "beloved" staff member at North Shore Congregation Israel, who had taught preschool for decades at the synagogue, are among those killed.
The dead have all been identified.
Here is what we know thus far about those who perished.
Kevin and Irina McCarthy
Kevin, 37, and Irina, 35, were Highland Park residents who drove downtown Monday with their son, Aiden, to watch the annual Independence Day parade featuring fire trucks, marching bands and local dignitaries. The celebration had just started when fusillades of gunfire rang out.
Irina McCarthy’s father, Michael Levberg, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Kevin died protecting his son.
“He had Aiden under his body when he was shot,” Levberg told the newspaper. Monday night, when when Levberg picked up Aiden at the Highland Park police station, the toddler told him “Mommy and Daddy are coming soon.”
“They were crazy about their child,” Levberg said. "They were planning two.”
Both parents were graduates of DePaul University in Chicago. ““We extend our prayers to their families, particularly their son Aiden, and all of those who have been affected by this senseless tragedy,” DePaul spokesman Russell Dorn said Tuesday.
Both were science majors. Kevin worked at a gene therapy firm and was described as a “star employee” with an “incredible work ethic."
Aiden will now be cared for by his grandparents.
Toledo, 78, was a beloved great-grandfather who accompanied his extended family to the parade.
"As a family we are broken and numb. Our condolences go out to all the other families who lost a loved one today. But today Nicolas is our guardian angel," one of granddaughters wrote on a GoFundMe account established to help with funeral and medical expenses.
At least two other members of the family's party were shot, but survived, the attack. Toledo was shot three times as he sat in his wheelchair, his relatives said, despite family members trying to shield him as bullets flew. He had spent much of his life in Mexico, but had returned to Highland Park to be with his family.
Sundheim, 64, was a congregant and had previously been a dedicated preschool teacher at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois.
Her synagogue describer her as a "beloved" staff member who spent her early days teaching preschool and her entire life worshipping at the synagogue.
"There are no words sufficient to express the depth of our grief for Jacki's death and sympathy for her family and loved ones," the synagogue said in a statement.
"Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all, from her early days teaching at the Gates of Learning Preschool to guiding innumerable among us through life’s moments of joy and sorrow," the statement said.
Straus, 88, was excited about going to the July 4 parade, his grandsons said.
"He was very active, he enjoyed life," Maxwell Straus, 18, told CNN. "He attended music festivals, loved to get outside, and biked into his 80s."
He had told his family he was headed downtown to watch the festivities. After news reports surfaced of the horrific scene, Maxwell said his father became extremely anxious because he couldn't get Stephen on the phone.
Hours later, a hospital called to say Stephen Straus was dead.
"It was shocking, hard to imagine," Maxwell said.
The remaining dead have been identified as 64-year-old Katherine Goldstein of Highland Park and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, of Waukegan, Illinois.
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