'We'll mourn together and we'll offer support together': Highland Park responds to shooting
Still reeling from the shock of a July 4 shooting that left seven people dead and dozens more injured, Highland Park residents are coming together to support one another.
"Today is a day of grieving together, to pause," Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said at a news conference with law enforcement Tuesday morning.
Throughout the day, prayer vigils were held at area churches to remember the victims and help a grieving community.
At Highland Park High School, more than 40 counselors from Township High School District 113, North Shore School District 112 and several surrounding school districts were available Tuesday and met with more than 300 students, staff members and community members who sought help.
A family assistance center also will open Wednesday at noon at Highland Park High School to provide services to District 113 families. The city's police department, American Red Cross, the FBI Victim Services Response Team and additional federal and state partners will be available to work with District 113 families and provide assistance as needed.
Victims need of support can call (800) 225-5324 (1-800-CALL-FBI). The center will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and as needed in the days afterward. No appointment is necessary. Anyone who is not a District 113 student or staff member will need to show identification to enter the school.
A drop-in center at Oak Terrace School, 240 Prairie Ave. in Highwood, and Ravinia School, 763 Dean Ave. in Highland Park, will be available for North Shore School District 112 families. Counseling services will be available Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m.
Saying she knew "what a generous community" Highland Park was, Rotering encouraged people to check the city's webpage for information on how people can help. She urged residents to be cautious of potential scams and said the village is working on compiling a list highlighting ways residents can help and where residents can go to for assistance.
Various GoFundMe pages had already been started to help individual victims or the community at large.
One, aimed at helping the community at large, had raised nearly $200,000 for those affected by Monday's shooting.
"The community, not to anyone's surprise, has come together," said Danielle Sharfman, a 2013 Highland Park High School graduate who set up the GoFundMe page to help victims of the July 4 shooting.
Sharfman, whose parents still live in Highland Park, said she is working with city officials to help ensure funds are properly distributed.
"We'll mourn together and we'll offer support together and we'll hope and pray that everyone impacted finds their way through," she said. "We're here to help and support in any small way that we can."
Additional prayer vigils will be held on Wednesday. Makom Solel Lakside, at 1301 Clavey, and Galilee UMC, at 1696 McGovern Ave., are each hosting prayer vigils at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
City officials Tuesday also announced the cancellation of Food Truck Thursdays on July 7 and 14, Takeout Tuesday at The Lot on July 12 and World Music Fest at The Lot on July 16.