Services begin for victims of Highland Park shooting : NPR

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Linda Straus, widow of Stephen Straus, who was killed Monday in a mass shooting during the July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois, arrives for a funeral service with family members at the Jewish Reconstruction Congregation on Friday in Evanston, Illinois Straus was buried earlier in a private family service.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP


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Charles Rex Arbogast/AP


Linda Straus, widow of Stephen Straus, who was killed Monday in a mass shooting during the July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois, arrives for a funeral service with family members at the Jewish Reconstruction Congregation on Friday in Evanston, Illinois Straus was buried earlier in a private family service.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

CHICAGO — On Friday, mourners remembered a woman who worked tirelessly at her synagogue and a gentle man who loved art at the first official services held for the seven people killed by the shooter who opened fire during a 4th of July parade.

Members of the North Shore Congregation Israel synagogue, near the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, described Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63, as a dedicated member of their community who coordinated events and taught preschool classes, smiling throughout and constantly monitoring other staff.

“We are horrified,” Rabbi Wendi Geffen said. “We are furious, disgusted, aggrieved, inconsolable for the terror that has descended upon us and robbed us of Jacki.”

But Geffen and other speakers urged those filling the synagogue to focus on Sundheim’s life – her commitment to her husband, Bruce, and daughter, Leah, the pleasure she took in knitting and her concern for the detail when planning bat or bar mitzvahs, weddings or funerals.

Her daughter had another request: to use the pain, fear and rage caused by her mother’s death to make the world a better place, in small thoughts and actions.

“I want you to laugh,” she said, holding back tears. “I want you to put a little more joy and kindness into this world every day. Don’t let this sadness, this fear, this rage make you bitter towards our world. The world is darker without my mother, and that It’s over to us now to fill it with some extra laughter.”

Mourners also packed the Jewish Reconstruction Congregation in Evanston to support the family of 88-year-old Stephen Straus, who was billed as a fun father and grandfather who loved reading and art and took always the train five days a week to the office in downtown Chicago. where he worked as a financial advisor.

His son Jonathan described Straus as “really in his heart, just a sweet and generous person” while his other son, Peter, thanked his father for instilling a love of the “goofy”, including Mel Brooks.

Jonathan Straus said learning of his father’s death from a doctor in a hospital “was the worst moment of my life”.

“Thinking about the good, generous and loving person he was makes the cruelty and horror of his death even harder to bear,” he said. “When I see pictures of him…it really overwhelms me, what we’ve lost, who I’ve lost, my best friend ever.”

Friends and family of Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, plan to remember him on Friday afternoon. Services for Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, are scheduled for Saturday.

Details of the funerals of the other victims have not been made public. Authorities identified them as Irina McCarthy, 35, and Kevin McCarthy, 37, who attended the parade with their 2-year-old son, and Katherine Goldstein, 64, a mother of two.

The accused shooter, Robert E. Crimo III, has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors expect to bring other charges representing the more than 30 people injured in the assault.

Investigators said the suspect, who lived in nearby Highwood, had legally purchased five weapons and planned the attack for weeks before climbing onto the roof of a business along the parade route and opening fire with a semi-automatic rifle.

Investigators reported that Crimo fled the parade blending into the fleeing crowd and then drove to the Madison, Wisconsin area where he was considering a second attack. He returned to the Highland Park area and his car was spotted by police.

Questions remain about whether Crimo should have been able to legally buy guns in Illinois. Illinois state police officials defended the approval of his firearms license in December 2019, months after police received reports he had made suicidal and violent threats .

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