Christians reflect on July 4 parade shooting that claimed seven lives
HIGHLAND PARK, Illinois. — On a lazy 4th of July morning, Nicole Estes and her husband, Steve, decided to take a quick trip to Home Depot.
Before they could leave their subdivision on Chicago’s North Shore, they heard the sirens.
“The police were just passing by, and they were police officers from different communities,” said Nicole Estes, whose family is attending the North West Church of Christ in Chicago.
The couple knew something major had happened. Possibly drowning in nearby Lake Michigan, one speculated.
“I hope it’s not a mass shooter,” Steve Estes, an executive at Reynolds Consumer Products, told his wife.
Unfortunately, his fear turned out to be true.
Yet another American community – this time an affluent suburb about 25 miles north of Chicago – was the victim of a mass shooting.
A shooter with a semi-automatic rifle fired over 80 rounds from a perch on the roof, killing seven people and injuring dozens more in the July 4 parade in Highland Park. Authorities charged 21-year-old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III with seven counts of first degree murder.
“We are often in Highland Park to eat,” said Nicole Estes, who lives a few miles from Lake Forest, the community where Crimo was arrested hours after Monday’s shooting. “The little town center has the most quaint little shops and it’s a cute little town.”
But in the wake of recent shootings in a Taiwanese Presbyterian church in California, a supermarket in Buffalo, NY, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas — among other nationwide attacks – gunfire shattered the patriotic celebration of Illinois children and parents carrying tiny American flags.
“It’s just a dark place to live right now,” Nicole Estes said of the Highland Park area. “Everyone is very sad. I mean, I’m going to the grocery store, and it’s just a little quieter than usual.
In the leafy suburb of 18,000 people, a yellow crime scene tape now surrounds the town centre. Makeshift memorials feature messages such as “HP Strong” and “Prayers for HP”. Police officers from many departments patrol the restricted area, while investigators wearing FBI jackets work inside the strip.
According to a national directory published by 21st Century Christian, there is no Christ Church in Highland Park or neighboring communities.
Related: “Whether guns kill people or people kill people, something has to change”
Maria Moore, who grew up in the McKnight Road Christ Church (now known as McKnight Crossings) in St. Louis and later met her husband, Marc, at Preston Road Christ Church in Dallas, attends a non-denominational congregation in the North Shore area.
Moore and her family were swimming in a neighbor’s pool on Monday night when law enforcement helicopters began flying overhead.
“We were like, ‘Do we need to go to our homes?'” Moore, a 2000 graduate of Abilene Christian University in Texas. “But before we could even make that decision, we learned that the suspect had been captured – just at an intersection where I am several times a day.”
“You never think this is going to happen in your neighborhood,” she said. “These communities here on the North Shore are very wealthy – a lot of famous people and athletes and that sort of thing have lived here. It’s very Mayberry.
As the mother of a 14-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter, Moore said, “It’s getting harder and harder to really be able to say we’re safe because you don’t know anymore.”
As a person of faith, she is curious to see how her church will react.
“Like I said, until you have it in your neighborhood, you don’t know how it’s going to affect you and how you’re going to react,” she said. “So it’s just kind of a neighbor check…let them know you’re here if they want to talk and stuff.”
Even before the Highland Park shooting, Nicole Estes – a person of deep faith whose daughters both attended Freed–Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee, which is associated with the Churches of Christ – had prayed for a solution.
Related: ‘The Mass Shooting That Would End Mass Shootings’ Didn’t
“Personally, I prayed for the mass shootings and for the gun issues because I don’t know what the answer is,” she said. The Christian Chronicle. “It is a comfort because I know that our God is more powerful than Satan.
“It’s just sad, I think,” she said. “And I hate that our country looks like this to the rest of the world. We’ve always been that nation that’s under God, that everybody admires for the good that’s in America and the safety that’s in America. And now we have what’s going on. … It’s terrorizing everyone.
According to the Associated Press, the Highland Park suspect was able to buy five guns legally although he has previously attempted suicide and threatened to “kill everyone” in his family.
In a recent online survey, nearly 300 the Chronicle readers shared a wide range of strong opinions about firearms.
Among those who spoke his mind was John Walker Moore, minister of East End Church of Christ in East Hampton, NY
“Whether guns kill people or people kill people,” Moore said of the mass shootings, “something has to change…before we start to believe it’s normal and acceptable, and a problem that we just can’t do anything about.”
BOBBY ROSS JR. is editor-in-chief of The Christian Chronicle. Join it at [email protected].
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