Nicholas Toledo76, did not want to attend the July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois, but since he used a wheelchair, he had to be accompanied at all times, and his family did not want to miss the event. Toledo would not return home alive.
The man, a Mexican who spent his entire life migrating between his country and USAwas one of the fatal victims of the shooting that broke out this Monday at the festival, and that left six dead and thirty wounded, at the hands of a shooter who, from the roof of a building, fired randomly at the attendees.
The suspect, identified as Robert Crimo, was arrested hours later, “without incident.” The rifle used by the attacker was also recovered.
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New York Times managed to recover the tragic history of Toledo.
In order to go to the parade, the family reserved a place from the night before in a privileged place, which ended up being deadly.
Toledo was in his wheelchair, between his son and a nephew, when the first shots began.
“We were in shock,” Xochil Toledo, Nicolás’s granddaughter, told the Times. “We thought it was part of the parade.”
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By the time they realized what was happening, it was too late. “We realized that our grandfather was hit by bullets. We saw blood, and he splashed on us, ”he explained to the American newspaper.
Toledo had three gunshot wounds, and did not survive. His son and Xochil’s boyfriend also received bullet wounds, although his injuries are not life-threatening.
The Mexican government pointed out that among the six deceased, one was a national, and that there were two others injured, but the Times said it was not clear whether the fatality that the Mexican authorities were talking about was Toledo. The family indicated that he had dual citizenship and migrated between the United States and Mexico.
Just a few months ago, the newspaper reported that Toledo returned to Highland Park at the request of his family. A few years ago, he was hit by a car in Highland Park and, as a result of that accident, he had a series of medical problems.
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“We brought him here so he could have a better quality of life,” said Xochil Toledo. “His children wanted to take care of him, and be more a part of his life, but now this tragedy has happened,” he lamented.
Xochil also spoke with the Chicago newspaper SunTimesto whom he told that his grandfather was sitting in the middle of the family, listening to the band that was playing music.
“I was so happy,” he said. “Happy to live that moment.”
According to Xochil, it was his grandfather who saved them all. “He saved our lives. I would have been shocked [las balas]my boyfriend or my cousins”.
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Xochil’s father tried to protect Nicolás and that’s when he was shot in the arm.
It was when they tried to flee that they realized that Xochil’s boyfriend had also been shot in the back. Someone took him to a nearby hospital, because they thought the ambulances would not keep up.
“We were all crying. We couldn’t believe what had happened. We couldn’t breathe.”
Xochil’s father has already left the hospital, but her boyfriend is still hospitalized.
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About his grandfather, originally from Morelos, Xochil told the Sun Times that he liked to fish and take walks in Highland Park. He preferred a good home cooked meal to going out to the restaurant.
“He was a sweet, loving grandfather, he only wanted the best for his children and grandchildren,” she recalled.
Xochil started a campaign to raise funds in GoFundMe. With an initial goal of 5 thousand dollars, last night he had raised 27 thousand 931.
“My grandfather Nicolás Toledo, father of 8 children and grandfather of many, has left us this morning of July 4. What was supposed to be a day of family fun turned into a horrible nightmare for all of us.”
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Xochil assured that the family is “broken”, while expressing his condolences to all those who lost someone in the shooting.
“Today Nicolás is our guardian angel. We ask that you please keep our family and all the families of this horrible tragic man in his prayers and stay strong as a community.”
Then, in Spanish, he wrote: “I love you grandpa. Rest in peace”.
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