CHICAGO (CBS) -- Witnesses described an "unbelievable" mass shooting at Highland Park 4th of July Parade where
Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) represents the area and was at the event. She said it's one that she attends every year with her family. Morrison said she was with her family, ready to ride in the parade in a convertible, when the shooting happened.
"My children, my grown children and my grandchildren and my husband and other relatives were all with me and other volunteers. We were just entering the ramp if he was for the parade, we heard I heard a pop," Morrison said, who admitted that, at first, she thought it was fireworks.
"It never occurred to me that in downtown Highland Park on the Fourth of July, there was the gunshots. But all of a sudden a couple of women started running back towards and then it was like almost a wave of people and they were crying and screaming and they said there's an active shooter and people have been shot."
Morrison said the shocking scene left her and others frozen with disbelief at first.
The state senator said that moments before the shooting, people at the parade were enjoying the event, which had just gotten started right before the shooting.
"We had children with bags of candy, getting ready to distribute them at the curb. And suddenly this rush of people ran back at us. That was like something you'd see in a movie," Morrison said, who added that now her city is part of a long list of communities affected by gun violence.
"This is Highland Park. This is a district, a town I represent. People I love live there. It's a the community I shop in and eat in. And to think that this community, now, is going to go the map likeand so many other communities is not acceptable and we had better step up and take some action.
Another witness, Lena Ghannad, grew up in Highland Park. She was there with her husband, her two-year-old-son and her young nieces and nephews.
"We were across the street from learn where the shooting started. We heard some like rhythmic sounds almost like a machine gun, but we weren't quite sure what it was. So we looked up and then probably, I don't know 10-15 seconds, later someone yelled 'run, get out of the way," Ghannad said. "And so my husband grabs my two-year-old and ran in one direction, away from the shooter. And then I grabbed my mom, and she had the three-year-old and then my sister grabbed the five-year-old and we ran behind the building we were at."
Ghannad said that she was separated from her husband and child and he didn't have a phone on him.
"He was hiding in a bathroom at the coffee shop that we were in earlier, which happened to have a backdoor to the garage. That was my parking garage where my car was," she said. "I told him to exit the back door and get in the car or go off with three boys on our lap and try to just drive as far away as possible."
Ghannad said, as far as the reaction from the young children, they didn't know exactly was going on, but sensed something was wrong.
"They were more confused (as to) why they were sitting in the car without car seats, because we didn't have car seats for all the kids. The five-year-old was asking 'why is there shooting? What are the police doing," Ghannad said. "The two little ones didn't have an awareness. The five-year-old, we told them what we could. Which was 'the police are here. They'll take care of everything, don't worry. You'll get your car back later. We just need to get away from here now."
Ghannad said she's bewildered as to who would do this to an event with lots of children.
"I hope and pray for everyone else. This parade, it was all children, families. I'm not sure what kind of person would target a group like this," she said.
Shawn Cotreau was also at the event and said he saw the shooter on a roof of the Rock n' Rags store near the parade route at the center of a four-way stop.
"I thought it was fireworks. There was a guy in a gray-brownish uniform with a hat on pulled down and you can see the shots firing of the tree," Cotreau said. "He was pointing downward, toward the street."
Cotreau said he did see people lying on the ground, but wasn't close enough to see how seriously injured they were, but from what he saw, it was a devastating sight.
"It's awful. It's scary. I feel for the families. I mean, I don't know what's happened. So it's just terrible."
He said as the shooting was happening, he and others took cover at the closest place they could away from parade route.
"We took our kids and we took other people's kids and hid in the back of a parking lot so we could get to our car. We left all our stuff," Cotreau said, who added that he and the others were trying to make their way to their own vehicles and, like others, thought he was hearing fireworks.
"I felt that the gunshots went on for minutes, not seconds. It just didn't stop," Cotreau said. "The tree was getting pelted by bullets and you could see the shooter and that was within a two to three second limit of time. Like, oh my god, this is really happening. This is legit. I swear I think it took 10 to 15 seconds to realize that he was actually shooting."
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