Father of two-year-old boy orphaned in Highland Park shooting died using body to shield his son

·3 min read

The 2-year-old boy who was left orphaned by the Highland Park massacre was reportedly protected from the spray of bullets raining down from the rooftop near the July 4th parade by his own deceased father’s body, according to the child’s grandfather.

On Monday, Kevin McCarthy, 37, and his 35-year-old wife, Irina, were named as two of the seven victims identified in the mass shooting allegedly carried out by 21-year-old Robert Crimo. Crimo has since been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and is being held without bail till his next court apperance.

The pair had attended the annual parade in the Chicago suburb alongside their 2-year-old son, Aiden McCarthy, when gunfire disrupted the otherwise celebratory scene. The family became separated and the young child was later escorted to safety by parade goers who saw the child wandering the streets amid the chaos.

Michael Levberg, the father to Irina, his only child, and grandfather of Aiden, has shed new light on what transpired in the immediate moments after the shooting began.

“He had Aiden under his body when he was shot,” Kevin’s father-in-law said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. He explained that the details of his son-in-law’s final moments of bravery only reached him after he retrieved his grandson from the Highland Park police station he’d been dropped off at after his parents couldn’t be found.

Aiden McCarthy, 2 years old, lost both parents in the Highland Park Fourth of July parade mass shooting (Screengrab/Video)
Aiden McCarthy, 2 years old, lost both parents in the Highland Park Fourth of July parade mass shooting (Screengrab/Video)

Aiden’s image went viral after videos began circulating online that showed the toddler walking the bloodied streets. A call to find the child’s family echoed widely across social media.

“A neighbour passed by, she showed me the picture, it was Aiden,” Mr Levberg said to the Chicago-based news outlet. “I picked him up at the police station.”

After picking up Aiden from the police department, Mr Levberg explained how his grandson told him: “Mommy and Daddy are coming soon.”

 (GoFundMe)
(GoFundMe)

According to the GoFundMe set up for the child, Aiden will go live with Mr Levberg and his wife. The online fundraiser has since raised more than $2m for the child and his maternal grandparents.

“Aiden will be cared for by his loving family and he will have a long road ahead to heal, find stability, and ultimately navigate life as an orphan,” the campaign said. The initial goal was set at $500,000 [£420,000] to “assist [Aiden] and the caregivers who will be tasked with raising, caring for, and supporting Aiden as he and his support system embark on this unexpected path,” the online campaign stated.

Robert Crimo appears in first court appearance on seven counts of first-degree murder (AP)
Robert Crimo appears in first court appearance on seven counts of first-degree murder (AP)

In addition to the McCarthy’s, the alleged shooter killed at least five other people and injured at least 38 more in the attack on Monday where he used a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 semi-automatic rifle to fire off at least 83 rounds, according to authorities.

The victims whose names have been released include: Katherine Goldstein, 64, Irina McCarthy, 35, Kevin McCarthy, 37, Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63, Stephen Strauss, 88, Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78 and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69.