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After the Highland Park shooting, the focus shifts to the victims and their families

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

We're learning about those who were killed at a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Ill. - a synagogue teacher, a businessman visiting from Mexico, and a couple whose 2-year-old was found wandering the street alone after the toddler's parents were fired on from the rooftop above them. Little Aiden McCarthy was later returned to family members by police who responded to the chaotic aftermath. During a press conference yesterday, Mayor Nancy Rotering tried to shift public attention from the suspected gunman to the seven individuals who were killed.

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NANCY ROTERING: As we now put the names and faces of those lost yesterday - family, friends, guests, longtime residents of the Highland Park community - our focus shifts to the victims and those left behind.

FADEL: NPR's Laura Benshoff reports.

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JENNIFER BANEK: It is with a heavy heart that I bring to you the names of the victims of that tragedy.

LAURA BENSHOFF, BYLINE: The task of announcing the names of the dead fell to Lake County coroner Jennifer Banek. Community and family members had already shared that Jacquelyn Sundheim of Highland Park and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza of Morelos, Mexico, had passed. But some names Banek shared were new.

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BANEK: Sixty-four-year-old Katherine Goldstein of Highland Park, 35-year-old Irina McCarthy of Highland Park, 37-year-old Kevin McCarthy of Highland Park, 88-year-old Stephen Straus of Highland Park.

BENSHOFF: With names came remembrances. Some of Toledo-Zaragoza's family were there when he was shot and killed. Two of his daughters spoke outside of a family member's home. Fabiola Toledo (ph) says he was thrilled to be visiting with his extended family for a few months.

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FABIOLA TOLEDO: He's coming here for three months, and he say he wants to stay longer because he want to be staying (ph) with the whole family. Almost the whole family's here.

BENSHOFF: He's now missed by many friends and his two dozen grandchildren. Fabiola says one of the younger ones asks, where's Grandpa?

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F TOLEDO: He's thinking he's in the hospital, and I say, no, he's not coming back.

BENSHOFF: Daughter Josefina Toledo (ph) says that it's hard to accept that he's gone.

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JOSEFINA TOLEDO: (Speaking Spanish).

BENSHOFF: She says he loved to go fishing and was a great father.

Laura Benshoff, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Laura Benshoff
Laura Benshoff is a reporter covering energy and climate for NPR's National desk. Prior to this assignment, she spent eight years at WHYY, Philadelphia's NPR Member station. There, she most recently focused on the economy and immigration. She has reported on the causes of the Great Resignation, Afghans left behind after the U.S. troop withdrawal and how a government-backed rent-to-own housing program failed its tenants. Other highlights from her time at WHYY include exploring the dynamics of the 2020 presidential election cycle through changing communities in central Pennsylvania and covering comedian Bill Cosby's criminal trials.