Woman recalls finding toddler underneath dad after both parents killed in Highland Park shooting

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, July 7, 2022
Woman recalls finding toddler underneath dad after both parents killed in Highland Park shooting
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The woman who found the 2-year-old boy who lost both his parents in the deadly Highland Park parade shooting recalls finding the now orphaned child.

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- The woman who found the 2-year-old boy who lost both his parents in the deadly Highland Park July 4 parade shooting described how she came to help the now orphaned child.

Aiden McCarthy was the only child of Kevin and Irina McCarthy, who had taken their young son into town for the annual Fourth of July parade Monday when gunfire struck both parents.

Lauren Silva said she was out to breakfast with her boyfriend and his teen son Monday morning when she heard the gunshots.

She said they were on their way back to the parking garage to get a wallet when the shooting happened.

That's when she saw the victims on the ground.

"When we heard the gunshots stop, then we went back up stairs to see the bodies," Silva said. "We saw about five bodies on the ground in Highland Park square. It was desolate. It was like an apocalypse. It was eerie and quiet."

Silva described an eerie scene, as the trombone player continued to play and a police officer slowly rode his bike down the street.

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People had already run away from the circle where the victims had fallen and said she saw the young boy's parents face down.

She recalled that Aiden had to be pulled out from underneath his father.

"When I came up from the landing of the stairs, my boyfriend had Aiden in his hands, where he had just got him from under his father who had fallen on him after he was shot," she said.

Silva's boyfriend immediately tried to stop Kevin's bleeding, knowing they couldn't help Irina. She said Irina was unrecognizable because of where she was shot.

That's when the couple handed Aiden off to the Ring family, who scooped up the little boy to take him to safety.

"I'll never forget. I pulled up, and I said, 'this is not our kid. It's not his blood; he's OK. What should we do?' And the cop said, 'we can't be babysitters now; can you take care of him?' We said, 'of course," parade-goer Greg Ring said.

Silva said she knew the boy needed to get check out but recalled she didn't have her wallet or cell phone with her. She said the blood on Aiden wasn't just his parents, that he had cuts too.

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"Every time I tried to ask him what his name was, the response he gave to me was, 'Mama, Dada come get me soon. Mommy's car come to get me soon,'" Dana Ring recalled in an interview that aired Wednesday on "Good Morning America."

Silva said all she wanted to do was care for him and comfort him as he asked for mommy and daddy.

"I wanted to hold onto him as much as he wanted to hold onto me," she said.

A neighbor saw his photo on the neighborhood watch page and helped reunite the toddler with his grandparents.

"He didn't know. I don't know how they're going to tell him," said Adrienne Rosenblatt, victims' neighbor. "How do you tell any 18-month-old boy that mommy and daddy are in heaven now? There are no words."

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The McCarthys' family and the families, friends and neighbors of six other victims, and entire communities, are left emotionally gutted by the premeditated shooting.

The boy's grandfather said the child survived because his father shielded him with his body.

"He had Aiden under his body when he was shot," the father-in-law said.

When he picked up his grandson at the Highland Park police station, Michael Levberg said the boy told him, "Mommy and Daddy are coming soon."

Irina McCarthy, an only child, "was the love of my life," her father said. "She was everything."

Born in Russia, she settled in the Chicago area with her immigrant father and mother, Nina Levberg. She worked as a waitress and attended Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire and DePaul University before landing a job in digital marketing in the pharmaceutical industry, her father said.

He said she met her husband Kevin - who worked for a gene therapy startup - through her job in pharmaceuticals.

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The McCarthys had been looking forward to the parade and going to see it with Aiden, Levberg said.

"They were crazy about their child," he said, his voice breaking. "They were planning two."

Silva said she is still in shock, adding that seeing the coverage on TV doesn't compare to seeing it in person. She said she just hasn't been able to process it all.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the young boy and "his support system embark on this unexpected journey."

Stephanie Ramos and ABC News contributed to this post.