July 4 parade participant: ‘We thought there was a celebrity’

CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Howard Prager is a member of one of the bands that participated in the Highland Park Independence Day parade that was tragically shot up, resulting in at least six deaths and multiple others injured Monday morning.

Prager joined “NewsNation Prime” on Monday to discuss what the encounter was like, as well as describe where he and his bandmates were at the time of the shooting.

According to Prager, he and his bandmates were on a float in the middle of a festive tune about a half block away from where the shooting took place. The first thing they noticed was a few people running backward.

“All of a sudden, the crowd got larger and larger, parents pushing strollers, young kids and older people, all running. It felt very surreal. We had no idea what was going on,” Prager said.

Even as it was going on, they mistook the commotion as someone famous making a surprise appearance.

“We were numb; we were in shock,” Prager said. “Our first thought was maybe there’s a celebrity nearby that people want to get to but as more and more people starting running and we saw their faces — faces of sheer terror and panic — we realized something terrible was going on,” he said.

Once they stopped playing they were able to hear the gunshots. Their driver took action and drove them to safety.

“Our driver was able to take evasive action and turn around to take us where we started,” Prager said.

Prager and his bandmates were some one of the lucky ones, as 24 others were injured, ranging from 8-85 years old, officials said. At least “four or five” of them were children, hospital officials said in a news conference Monday evening.

About eight hours after the shooting occurred, police took Robert “Bobby” Crimo III of Highland Park into custody after an officer spotted him in a vehicle and he led them in a short pursuit.

While Crimo has not yet been named as a suspect in the shooting, Lake County Sgt. Chris Covelli said officials only release the name of a person of interest after thorough investigation.