A gunman, perched on a rooftop, opened fire at a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Ill., yesterday, killing six. Dozens more were injured and taken to nearby hospitals. The suspected shooter was soon after found and taken into custody.
“There are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families and children celebrating a holiday with their community,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. He added, “I will stand firm with Illinoisans and Americans: We must — and we will — end this plague of gun violence.”
The governor’s Republican rival, at least initially, articulated a very different kind of message. The Daily Beast reported:
Standing next to supporters at a different parade, after taking a moment in prayer, state Sen. Darren Bailey, said: “Let’s move on and celebrate the independence of this nation.” He added, “We have got to get corruption and evil out of our government.”
For context, it’s worth emphasizing that the GOP gubernatorial nominee made these comments via a recorded video, roughly two hours after the deadly shooting. Moments before the “move on” comment, Bailey acknowledged that “the shooter is still at large.”
The Republican was also surrounded by supporters holding “Fire Pritzker” signs.
When these comments were not well received, Bailey backpedaled.
After being roasted on social media, Bailey told The Daily Beast through a spokesperson: “I apologize if in any way we diminished the pain being felt across our state today. I hope we can all come together in prayer and action to address rampant crime and mental health issues to make sure these horrific tragedies don’t happen again.”
The Republican state legislator easily won Illinois’ Republican gubernatorial nomination last week, thanks in part to support from Donald Trump, who liked Bailey’s far-right views, and also with the support of Democrats, who saw Bailey as someone who’d be easy to defeat in a statewide general election, and intervened in the primary to give him a hand.
Yesterday helped reinforce impressions of the GOP nominee.