By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Patti Logsdon was returning from a parade in suburban Milwaukee on Monday when she got word that a rooftop killer had shot dozens of people at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill.
Logsdon was instantly transported to another parade, another massacre, more than seven months ago. She thought of her granddaughter, Samantha, still recovering from near-fatal injuries suffered when another killer drove his SUV over the 14-year-old girl and dozens of others in the Waukesha Christmas parade.
“I got home and made the mistake of turning on the news. I sat and watched, I sat there and cried. It reminded me of Waukesha,” Logsdon told Empower Wisconsin.
In Highland Park, an affluent suburb of Chicago, suspect Robert Eugene Crimo III, has been charged with 7 counts of first-degree murder and is accused of injuring dozens more. The 21-year-old aspiring rapper is suspected of randomly shooting at parade-goers in carrying out a twisted plan authorities say he had concocted weeks before.
The mass shootings brought back painful memories for Logsdon and her family, and for the Waukesha community. The annual Christmas parade was hitting its usual festive stride when a man driving a red SUV barreled into the parade and mowed down participants and bystanders. Darrell Brooks, 40, is accused of killing six people and injuring 60-plus more in the rampage. Among the critically injured was Samantha, who was struck while performing with her little sister and others in a local dance team.
A short time later, it was learned that Brooks, a career violent criminal, had been freed from jail a few weeks before on just $1,000 bail. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm was forced to acknowledge his office had recommended the unconscionably low bail. The long-time prosecutor had predicted that somebody he cheaply set free through his form of “progressive” justice would go on to kill innocent people. Fellow liberal, Gov. Tony Evers, refused to even investigate Chisholm and his policies, something many victims of the Waukesha Christmas parade massacre have begged for.
Logsdon had planned to attend another Independence Day parade in her district that afternoon. After the shootings in Highland Park, her daughter pleaded with her not to go.
“She said, ‘You will not be in another parade today. We are not going to lose you,’” Logsdon recalled. The parade in Hales Corners, which was to include Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch, U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil and state Sen. Julian Bradley, was canceled because of weather. But there were lingering concerns about a Fourth of July shooter still on the loose.
Apparently there was good reason for worry.
Police say Crimo considered hitting a second community event in Madison after fleeing from the pandemonium and law enforcement in Highland Park.
“We don’t have information to suggest he planned to drive to Madison initially to commit another attack. We do believe he was driving around following the first attack and saw the celebration (in Madison),” said Christopher Covelli, a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.
Covelli said the mass shooting suspect decided against a second attack and drove back to Illinois, where he was arrested later that day.
For Logsdon and her family, the Highland Park parade massacre is like “salt in the wounds.”
Samantha will be a freshman in high school. She tried out and made the varsity dance team, her proud grandmother reports. Other than a scar on her head, there are no outward signs of the injuries she suffered. Samantha has mostly healed physically. But she’s still struggling with the mental and emotional damage done by a killer who stole a community’s sense of safety, the reasonable presumption that parades — particularly Christmas parades — are safe places.
“There are the hidden things that people do not see,” Logsdon said, holding back tears.