'This should never have happened': Harris speaks to Highland Park residents at scene of tragedy

Vice President Kamala Harris pledged the federal government's support Tuesday as she met with local law enforcement, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and other local officials just steps from where a gunman killed seven spectators at the city's Fourth of July parade.

Coming from an earlier planned event at McCormick Place in Chicago, Harris viewed the site of the carnage along Central Avenue from its still barricaded intersection at Green Bay Road, before addressing residents and members of the media who'd lingered after an earlier news conference announcing charges against suspect Robert Crimo III.

"So sorry for what you've all experienced, and the pain, the suffering," Harris said. "This should never have happened."

She asked traumatized residents to hold each other tight as a community and know that the entire nation cares about and stands with them.

"This is an incredibly tight community, I know that," Harris said. "And this person will be brought to justice, but it's not going to undo what happened."

She said the nation is sending Highland Park its prayers, and the administration of President Joe Biden is offering federal resources such as the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"There's a lot of healing that's going to have to happen, both physical and emotional," Harris said. "No question that this experience is something that is going to linger in terms of the trauma, and so I'd like to urge all the families and all the individuals to seek the support that you so rightly deserve."

She said the nation has to be smarter in terms of who has access to assault weapons.

"We've got to take this stuff seriously, as seriously as you are, because you've been forced to have to take it seriously," Harris said. "The whole nation should understand and have a level of empathy to understand that this can happen anywhere, in any peace-loving community. And we should stand together and speak out about why it's got stop."

After thanking the crowd, the vice president spoke further with Highland Park officials and U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, who lives in the community, before her motorcade headed to O'Hare International Airport.

  Vice President Kamala Harris talks with fire and police officials Tuesday night in downtown Highland Park the day after the deadly parade shooting. Paul Valade/
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