One of the six people killed in a mass shooting at a July 4 parade outside Chicago on Monday was a 78-year-old grandpa and father of eight, relatives told The Post.
Elderly parade-goer Nicholas Toledo was at the Highland Park celebration about 25 miles north of Chicago when he was shot dead by a gunman who opened fire on revelers from a rooftop, according to police and the victim’s family.
“We’re very upset, I’m shocked,” Toledo’s granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, 23, told the Post over the phone.
“It just feels like a dream, a scary dream.”
Nicholas, a native of Mexico, had planned to attend the parade with about a dozen family members but said Monday morning he did not want to go because he uses a walker and is concerned about his health, Xochil said.
“He said, ‘No, I think I should stay, I’m in a walker, there will be a lot of people, I don’t think I should go,'” Xochil recalled.
“My father and [aunt], they said, ‘How could we leave you here alone? We would never do this to you, whether you’re in a wheelchair or a walker, we’ll still take you with us,’ and then tragedy happened.”
The family were near where the parade started, sitting in chairs they had left in place the night before to save their seat, when gunfire erupted.
“When the parade started, I turned to see [Grandpa’s] reaction and he was so happy to be there and then all of a sudden. we heard gunshots. We thought it was part of the parade. We didn’t know what was going on until we felt blood from our grandfather on us,” Xochil recalled.
“We all panicked and fell to the ground. We all went our own ways. We all didn’t know what to do, how to react, we were in shock, my grandfather’s body was right behind us,” she continued.
“Our instinct was to run away from the crime scene. My father and one of my cousins stayed behind and hugged his body.”
Numerous other relatives were injured in the shooting, but none of them fatally, Nicholas’ son Alejo Toledo, 51, said on the phone.
Xochil said her grandfather was shot three times but saved their lives in the process.
“He was our lifesaver… I actually sat in front of him along with all my cousins,” Xochil said as she burst into tears.
“We were all there together, it was a family of about 10 or 15, and he was the only one who died. It could have been bad, he took three bullets and those bullets could have been aimed at either me or my friend.”
Nicholas, who lived in Mexico, had been visiting Highland Park for the past two months after being unable to see his family for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He actually spoke this morning about how lucky he is to be with his kids,” Xochil said.
“He was wonderful, he was a happy man… He loved drawing, he loved coloring books.”
Alejo said his father was a hardworking man who adored his family.
“He’s a great father, he worked hard here in the United States a long time ago and is retired,” said Alejo, who did not attend the parade.
“He’s beautiful, we went on a fishing trip three weeks ago.”
At least 24 people were injured by the shots, some seriously, the suspect is still at large.
Cops said he used a ladder to climb onto a rooftop overlooking the parade and opened fire with a “high-powered rifle.”
Five adults died at the scene and another succumbed to their injuries after being rushed to the hospital, Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said.
At least one child was taken to hospital in critical condition and many others suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen and limbs, according to police.
https://nypost.com/2022/07/04/first-victim-in-highland-park-parade-shooting-identified-as-nicholas-toledo/ First victim in Highland Park shooting identified as Nicholas Toledo