HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — A woman who survived the July Fourth mass shooting at a suburban Chicago parade Monday said it is a “miracle” she is alive because a man who was next to her family was one of the seven people killed.
Lorena Sevano, 44, of Highland Park, was grazed on her right ankle as bullets rained down on those in attendance from a shooter who was positioned on a rooftop. Forty-seven people were injured at the downtown parade.
Speaking by phone Tuesday, Sevano described in Spanish how bullets began whizzing by her during the celebration, which she attended with her older sister, cousins and their families.
She said that when the gunfire erupted, at first she thought it was fireworks. But then she could see the bullets ricocheting off the street and smoke forming around the gunfire and that’s when she and the other family members all dispersed in different directions.
Sevano said she ran to a nearby store for safety.
“It’s a miracle,” she said of escaping the massacre without further injury. “It was God.”
“One of the people killed was right next to us,” Sevano said.
That person was Nicolas Toledo, 78, she said. Toledo’s son, Alejo, has confirmed to NBC News that his father was a victim of the shooting.
Sevano's daughter, Gisselle Figueroa, 22, said her family has known Toledo’s family, which makes the shooting even more devastating.
Toledo, 78, had initially not wanted to go to the parade, one of his granddaughters told The New York Times. But family members brought him along because his disabilities meant he needed to be accompanied full-time, the newspaper reported.
“We were all in shock. We thought it was part of the parade,” his granddaughter Xochil told the newspaper. “We realized our grandfather was hit. We saw blood and everything splattered onto us.”
Four of Sevano’s family members also were injured in the attack.
Of them, Sevano said, her sister sustained the worst injury. Metal fragments entered her knee, she said.
The youngest family member injured was an 11-year-old boy, Figueroa said. None of her relatives' injuries were life-threatening, she said.
Figueroa said she was on her way to the parade when her mother called her and told her there was a shooting. She said the yearly family tradition to attend the holiday parade is now forever tainted.
“It’s never going to be the same. The city and the community will never be the same,” she said.
Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, who was picked up by police hours after the fatal shooting, had planned the attack for weeks, authorities said Tuesday. He fired more than 70 rounds from a rooftop above the parade route, shooting victims at random, authorities said.