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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Grandparents and parents are mourned after attack

By Dan Simmons, Shawn Hubler, Noam Scheiber and Ellen Almer Durston

A grandfather in a choice viewing spot his family had found for him. A 63-year-old woman who was her synagogue’s go-to person for special events. A beloved uncle who still went to work every day, even in his late 80s. A suburban couple who had taken their toddler to the parade.

Still reeling from the violent attack on a Fourth of July celebration, families and friends of the seven paradegoers killed in Highland Park, Illinois, have begun to share details about the casualties of yet another American mass shooting.

More than 30 people were also wounded, including four members of a single family.

Police said the victims, attacked by a gunman firing from a roof, ranged from octogenarians to children as young as age 8. All seven of those who were killed were adults, including one who died in a hospital on Wednesday morning.

Most of the victims were residents of Highland Park, the bucolic suburb north of Chicago where the celebration was a community tradition. They could have come from any Independence Day crowd in any town in the nation.

Here is what we know about those who died, based on interviews:

Irina McCarthy, 35, and Kevin McCarthy, 37

In the chaotic aftermath of the shooting, Lauren Silva — who moments before had merely been heading to breakfast — found a bloodstained toddler lying beneath a bleeding man. As her boyfriend and son worked frantically to help the man, who was unresponsive, Silva cradled the child, who kept asking if his parents were OK.

Word spread online about the little boy found at the scene of a massacre. Adrienne Rosenblatt, 71, saw a photo and recognized him as her neighbor, whom she had coached to overcome his fears of her small white dog, Lovie. She alerted the boy’s grandparents, who brought the boy home from the police station. His parents had not survived the attack.

On Tuesday, authorities identified the parents as Kevin and Irina McCarthy of Highland Park. Irina Colon of Northbrook, Illinois, a relative of Irina McCarthy, said in a fundraising appeal that she posted on GoFundMe that the boy was “left in the unthinkable position; to grow up without his parents.”

By midday Wednesday, the appeal had raised nearly $2.5 million from nearly 46,000 donors.

Katherine Goldstein, 64

A mother of two daughters in their early 20s, Katherine Goldstein was described by her husband, Dr. Craig Goldstein, as a perennial good sport who was willing to explore a succession of exotic locales without batting an eye. “She didn’t complain, ‘There are bugs.’ She was always along for the ride,” Craig Goldstein, a hospital physician, said.

Goldstein said that his wife did not work outside their home after they were married in the late 1990s and that she devoted herself to being a mother. She took her elder daughter, Cassie, to the Highland Park parade on the Fourth of July so Cassie could reunite with friends from high school. Katherine Goldstein was fond of playing games with her children, like the word game Bananagrams, her younger daughter, Alana, recalled.

Craig Goldstein said that his wife and her siblings recently lost their mother, and that they had been discussing what kind of arrangements they would like for themselves upon their own death. He recalled that Katherine, an avid bird watcher, said she wanted to be cremated and to have her remains scattered in the Montrose Beach area of Chicago, where there is a bird sanctuary.

But the reflection on her own mortality was out of character, he said. “The amazing thing about Katie is that she never thought about her own death,” Goldstein said. “For me it’s almost a preoccupation. She never thought about it.”

Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78

Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza did not want to attend Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade, but his disabilities required that he always be around someone. And the family was not going to skip the parade — even going so far as positioning chairs for a choice viewing spot at midnight the night before.

Toledo-Zaragoza was sitting in his wheelchair along the parade route, between his son and a nephew, when the bullets started flying. “We realized our grandfather was hit,” Xochil Toledo, his granddaughter, said. “We saw blood and everything splattered onto us.”

Toledo-Zaragoza had moved back to Highland Park a few months ago from Mexico at the urging of family members. He had been struck by a car while walking in Highland Park a few years ago in a prior stint living with family, and had a range of resulting medical issues.

“We brought him over here so he could have a better life,” Toledo said. “His sons wanted to take care of him and be more in his life, and then this tragedy happened.”

Eduardo Uvaldo, 69

Eduardo Uvaldo, a father of four and grandfather of 17, watched telenovelas every morning with his wife, Maria. He also made sure to catch Team Mexico soccer matches and Chicago Cubs baseball games.

And every Fourth of July, he went with his family to the Highland Park parade.

Brian Hogan, 13, described his grandfather as doting and “goofy,” with a knack for funny faces. Uvaldo came to the United States from Mexico when he was 15, his family said, working janitor and maintenance jobs until his retirement.

Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63

A smile and a hug. Those were the guarantees every time Jacquelyn Sundheim — known as “Jacki” — walked into Marlena Jayatilake’s spice shop in downtown Highland Park.

“She was such a beautiful human being, a beautiful ray of light,” Jayatilake said. “So it’s definitely a dark day.”

Sundheim, a member of the North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois, was among the people killed at the parade, according to the synagogue, where friends said she coordinated events and did a bit of everything else.

Janet Grable, a friend, said she went far beyond her expectations in planning the bar mitzvahs for both her children and arranging special seating for her mother when she joined services while in town.

Stephen Straus, 88

A father of two, a grandfather of four and a financial adviser who, at 88, still took the train every day from his Highland Park home to his office at a brokerage firm in Chicago, Stephen Straus “should not have had to die this way,” his niece, Cynthia Straus, said.

“He was an honorable man who worked his whole life and looked out for his family and gave everyone the best he had,” Cynthia Straus said. “He was kind and gentle and had huge intelligence and humor and wit.”

Two of Stephen Straus’ grandsons, Tobias Straus, 20, and Maxwell Straus, 18, said that they and their parents typically gathered with Straus and his wife for dinner each Sunday evening, including the evening before the shooting. Tobias, who fondly recalled his grandfather’s sense of humor, said Straus was in vintage form.

“He ordered ‘spaghetti with two meatballs, hold one meatball,’” Tobias Straus said. After he complimented his grandfather’s watch, he added, his grandfather gave it to him “out of nowhere.”

“It was literally the night before.”

Cynthia Straus said her uncle and his community should have been better protected: “There’s kind of a mentality that this stuff doesn’t touch us,” she said.

“And no one can think that way right now — we are in an internal war in this country. This country is turning on itself. And innocent people are dying.”

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