Surrounded by a dozen family members, Nicolás Toledo, 78, was sitting on his walker to watch the Highland Park July 4 parade on Monday when the gunshots rang out.
“We all threw ourselves to the ground,” his daughter, Josefina Toledo, told The Daily Beast. “My dad, since it’s difficult for him to walk … he was sitting on his walker and he was hit in his back and in his head.”
The father of eight, who recently became a great-grandfather, was killed instantly—one of the six people murdered in the massacre carried out by a rooftop sniper.
The parade was a family tradition, said Josefina, who explained that after the marching was over, the clan would gather at the family home to continue celebrating the holiday.
“We all were very happily waiting for the parade when all of a sudden the gunfire started,” she said.
Among the dozens who were wounded by bullets from a high-powered rifle was the boyfriend of one of Josefina’s nieces. He is hospitalized in stable condition but facing surgery to remove the bullet near his lungs.
“There isn’t a safe place anymore,” she said.
Her father lived in a small town in the Morelos state of Mexico before moving to the U.S. with his son to find work in the mid-’80s, and later moved back to his home country to enjoy his golden years.
He came back to Illinois three months ago for an extended visit with his huge extended family in Highland Park.
Josefina Toledo told The Beast that her dad was happiest when he was boating, fishing, and hunting in the small town of Nexpa. Even when he lived in Illinois, his children would take him hunting. The family plans to send his body back to Mexico for burial.
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