Highland Park police, firefighters in parade found themselves responding to mass shooting

Sarah Schulte Image
Tuesday, July 4, 2023
Highland park cops, firefighters in July 4 parade recall mass shooting
Highland Park police and firefighters were in the 2022 July 4th parade when they found themselves under fire and responding to a mass shooting.

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Highland Park police officers and firefighters were participating in the 2022 July 4th parade when they found themselves under fire and in demand to respond to a mass shooting.

"I was actually in the parade, it's a tradition in our fire department most guys bring their families," said Fire Chief Joe Schrage.

"I happened to be right around 2nd and Central around 10 o'clock just as the parade started, I was there with my family," said Police Chief Lou Jogman.

READ MORE: Highland Park victims sue gun manufacturer, alleged shooter's dad

Fourteen minutes after the 10 a.m. start time, Jogman heard what he called the unmistakable sound of gunfire.

"I can tell you my stomach dropped and I knew instantly that it was gunfire," he said.

As he was trained to, Jogman ran toward the sound.

"Within the first minute and a half you knew it was coming from the roof," he said.

Law enforcement's job was to find and apprehend the shooter as quickly as possible to stop further injury, so Jogman said he couldn't stop to help people.

"It's heartbreaking to run past people who are looking for help, they look to you, they see you in uniform," he said.

Because he rode at the beginning of the parade, Schrage had already returned to the fire station when he found out something had gone wrong.

"I noticed one of our police officers suddenly cocked his head and listened to his radio, did it again threw his water bottle down and started running downtown," he recalled.

Schrage and several other firefighters followed.

"We were dispatched at 10:15, by the end of 10:15, we were there, less than 60 seconds we were on the scene," he said.

Because so many firefighters attended the parade, they were able to help people immediately. Schrage said that quick response and the mass casualty training they had undergone saved the day.

"Nobody that got hired in Highland Park has ever thought they would be a combat medic that day, but we were," said Schrage.

While the day was tragic and difficult for first responders, both Schrage and Jogman said moving forward they focus on the good.

"You look at the people in this community and outside that helped, it is amazing," Jogman said.

He said unit among people and outside agencies is helping the police department prepare for this year's holiday, one he said will be safe although he would not divulge any details.