They were grandparents, parents, nature lovers and successful professionals who believed that America was worth celebrating. None of them survived an Independence Day parade in their Chicago suburb after a sniper opened fire on the crowd.
Funerals for the seven killed in Monday’s Fourth of July parade began Friday Highland ParkIllinois, in an attack that also injured more than 30 people.
Beloved Jacqueline “Jackie” Sundheim, 63; Steven Strauss, 88; and Nicolas Toledo Zaragoza, 78, gathered Friday at two local synagogues and a Christian church, respectively, to pay their last respects.
Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, will be buried on Saturday. Details of funeral arrangements for Irina McCarthy, 35; her husband, Kevin McCarthy, 37; and Catherine Goldstein, 64, were not immediately available Friday afternoon.
Sundheim was remembered Friday as a wife and mother who was a devoted member of Northshore Congregation Israel in Highland Park, taught preschool and coordinated bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies.
Her daughter Leah asked those who attended the service to honor Sundheim by bringing “a little more joy and kindness into this world every day.”
“Don’t let this sadness, this fear, this anger make you bitter about our world,” the daughter added, according to the Associated Press. “The world is dark without my mom and now it’s up to us to fill it with a little extra laughter.”
The grieving Strauss marveled at the energy he mustered to work full-time as a financial advisor. The grandfather of four was a senior employee of the financial firm he worked for, but one thing did not define him – he also rode a bicycle, watched birds and squirrels and was a regular visitor to concerts of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Strauss “loved life and tried to live every day to the fullest,” said his son Peter Chicago Sun-Times. “And [he] was generous and kind.”
Toledo, for his part, wasn’t even sure if he wanted to go to Monday’s parade. But the native of the Mexican state of Morelos, who used a walker, left because his family did not want to leave him alone.
During a long visit with his American relatives, Toledo enjoyed painting, fishing and going for walks, his granddaughter Xachil told the Sun-Times. He was standing between Xochil and her cousins when the shooting broke out at Monday’s parade.
“He was the one who saved all of our lives,” said Xochil, whose father and boyfriend were also injured. “We couldn’t believe everything that happened. We couldn’t breathe.”
The death of Irina and Kevin McCarthy caused a huge public outcry because their two-year-old son Aiden was found under his father’s body and next to his mortally wounded mother after the shooting. Paternal grandmother was injured.
The couple dreamed of having a sibling for Aiden, relatives told the Sun-Times. But now his maternal grandparents are responsible for his upbringing – an online fundraising designed to support them, has received more than $3 million from nearly 57,000 different donors as of Friday.
In the meantime, friends and relatives remembered Goldstein as a mother who loved to go bird watching with her family. “She was … the kindest, sweetest,” friend Jill Kirschenbaum told the Sun-Times.
Uvalda and his wife had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary when he was shot at the parade. Uvaldo’s 13-year-old grandson was reportedly injured.
“His favorite holiday was the Fourth of July,” Uvaldo’s other grandson, Tony Guzman, told the Sun-Times. Guzmán’s voice trailed off as he lamented that Uvaldo was “taken away from all of us in this way” on a day he had always considered special.
The accused shooter, 21-year-old Robert Krima III, was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. According to the prosecutor’s office, additional charges have been brought against him in connection with the wounded.
Authorities said he was able to legally obtain the high-powered rifle he used to commit the murder despite attempting suicide in April 2019 and threatening to kill his family five months later, prompting a police response.
Police were also familiar with his parents by then, having been called to their home multiple times between 2010 and 2014 to investigate alleged fights between the couple, Reuters reported, citing records released on Friday.