Gun Violence Survivors Week: Highland Park shooting survivor describes moments of horror

National Gun Violence Survivors Week was recognized in Highland Park on Friday, where community members and elected leaders gathered at City Hall to amplify the voices of survivors.

Held each February, the week is a reminder that just one month into the new year, gun deaths in the U.S. have already surpassed the number of gun deaths other countries will experience the entire year.

"Nearly 4,000 people have already been killed by guns in homicides, suicides, and accidents just this year," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois. 
Sen. Dick Durbin was in Highland Park for the event.

There, survivors were honored, including Liz Turnipseed, who attended last summer’s Fourth of July parade.

"I was thrown to the ground with a force that I can only describe like a sonic boom," said Turnipseed. "I was momentarily disoriented, I had a ringing in my ear and a pain and a burning in my pelvis."


Turnipseed was in attendance with her husband and their young daughter.

"We looked at each other and we knew that I was shot, and we needed to get Sonya out of there. So with bullets flying over our heads, he looked at me and said, '‘I’ll be back for you,’ and then he ran off with our daughter. Without saying it we both knew in that moment that her safety was our priority. What he didn’t know was that my second priority was that he needed to live, we couldn’t leave Sonya without any parents," said Turnipseed.

Turnipseed and her family survived, but are still coping with the trauma.

"My hope is that no other family, no other community has to go through this. We hear about shootings every single day in the news. While those stories fade fast, being a survivor of gun violence, it never leaves you," said Turnipseed.

As Turnipseed shared her emotional story, lawmakers continue to push for new gun safety laws.

This week, Sen. Durbin and U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider reintroduced the SECURE Firearm Storage Act, which would establish security requirements for businesses that sell or manufacturer firearms.

"The premise of our bill is simple, if you’re a gun dealer, when you close up for the night, put the guns away securely so burglars can’t steal them and use them in a crime," said Sen. Durbin.

"In the absence of a federal assault weapons ban, the SECURE Firearm Storage Act is common-sense legislation that respects the Second Amendment and will also help keep guns out of the wrong hands, preventing them from bringing carnage to our communities," said Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering.

Officials in Highland Park are still working on details for a permanent memorial to honor the seven people killed during the parade last summer; it could take several years to complete.

The alleged gunman Robert Crimo III is accused of firing an assault rifle at paradegoers from a rooftop at the corner of Central Avenue and Second Street in the north suburb. Seven people died and 48 others were wounded.

Crimo allegedly disguised himself in women’s clothes during the attack and dropped the rifle while running away. Police identified Crimo by that weapon and from images from surveillance cameras. Police arrested Crimo as he drove his mother’s car in North Chicago, eight hours after the attack.

The victims who died were Katherine Goldstein, 64; Irina McCarthy, 35; Kevin McCarthy, 37; Jacki Sundheim, 63; Stephen Straus, 88; Nicolas Toledo, 78; and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69.

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.