HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) – One person who died in the Independence Day parade shooting in suburban Chicago was an active member of a local Jewish congregation, who once taught preschool and coordinated bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies.
Another was a beloved grandfather and father of eight who went to the parade for a “fun family day,” as his granddaughter put it.
Portraits of the dead began to emerge Tuesday as investigators continued to search for evidence in the shooting that killed at least seven and wounded 30 in Highland Park, an affluent suburb on Chicago’s north shore. Only two of the seven dead have been identified.
The dead included Jacki Sundheim, 63, a lifelong congregant and “beloved” staff member at nearby North Shore Congregation Israel, where she had worked for decades, the synagogue said on its website. Early in her career, she taught at the Reform synagogue’s Gates of Learning Preschool and later coordinated events and bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies.
“Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all,” synagogue leaders wrote in a message on the website. “There are no words sufficient to express the depth of our grief for Jacki’s death and sympathy for her family and loved ones.”
Nicolas Toledo was killed on what his 23-year-old granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, said was supposed to be a “fun family day” that “turned into a horrific nightmare for us all.”
On a GoFundMe page to raise money for Toledo’s funeral expenses, Xochil Toledo said her grandfather was a “loving man, creative, adventurous and funny.”
“As a family we are broken, numb,” she said.
Nicolas Toledo, who was in his late 70s, spent most of his life in Morelos, Mexico, and had come to Illinois to visit his family about two months ago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. His family wanted him to stay permanently because of injuries he had suffered after being hit by a car a couple years ago during an earlier visit to Highland Park. The newspaper reported that he was hit by three bullets Monday and died at the scene.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to attend the parade because of the large crowds and his limited mobility, which required him to use a walker, but Xochil Toledo said the family didn’t want to leave him alone.