School community devastated by CPS teacher, family members injured in Highland Park shooting

The most American of holidays featured strollers, kids, parents, grandparents, dogs, lawn chairs, blankets on the grass, "God Bless America" balloons, tiny U.S. flags, fire engines, a marching band, and rounds of bullets fired from a high-powered rifle that tore through the crowd watching the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.

School shootings have become an ever-present fear, and teachers receive extensive training in how to respond to mass shootings, but Chicago Public Schools teacher Zoe Kolpack was watching the parade with her husband, their two young children and other relatives when this mass shooting began Monday.

She and her husband were hit by bullets, as were her father and brother-in-law. All were treated at a nearby hospital for injuries from the shooting that killed seven people and wounded more than two dozen others. The couple's two young children were not hit in the barrage of bullets.

"Chicago Public Schools is devastated to learn that one of our CPS teachers and her family members are among those who were injured in Monday's mass shooting in Highland Park," read a statement released Tuesday by Mary Fergus, executive director of media relations for the system. "We are thinking of our William Dever Elementary colleague and her family, as well as all those impacted by this tragedy. CPS officials have been in contact with the teacher and her family and our crisis team and support services will be available to support the Dever Elementary staff and students as needed."

A CPS employee since 2017, Kolpack teaches prekindergarten students at the school on Chicago's North Side.

"Today at the highland park annual 4th of July parade my best friend, her dad, husband, and brother in law were all shot in front of their little kids (kids were unharmed)," read a GoFundMe page organized on the day of the shooting by Samantha Whitehead of Highland Park, to raise money to pay medical bills for the "Kolpack & Joyce" family. "They are all in the hospital undergoing various surgeries, which will seriously impact these families financially. I do not want this to be another burden on them as they will have many obstacles to go through in the months ahead. Please donate whatever you can. Anything is appreciated."

By Wednesday afternoon, that fund had raised nearly $255,000 from more than 4,500 donors.

"The continued support leaves us all at a loss for words. I will keep you all posted on their recovery," read an update on the GoFundMe page. "Your generosity is appreciated more than you will ever know. Let's keep going."

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