Man with teen boys describes terror at 4th of July shooting

CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Following the deadly mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois that left at least six dead and multiple others injured, a man who was attending the event with his twin 14-year-old boys recounted the terrifying experience.

“14-year-old boys ran up and gave us a hug in front of their teammates. I think that says something,” Jeff Leon said during Monday’s edition of “NewsNation Prime.” “I think we can all read between the lines on that.”

Leon was attending the event with his wife, whose two sons were in the parade with their football team. He said that before the shooting took place, he stood up to see where the parade was coming from — to see if they were getting close — and saw that his kids were nowhere near.

“I could see no sign of them. So, in that sense, I felt good they were in a safer place than we were. The concern was that were had no scope or scale of what was going on,” Leon said.

Leon went on to explain how Highland Park is not the sort of community where gun violence would be expected, and that even though it’s something he’s talked about with his kids, he felt like it was a distant reality.

“It’s horrifying to think that your children may be exposed to violence directly or even the indirect after-effect of violence,” he said.

Leon says he and his wife only realized the loud popping noises they heard weren’t fireworks until police started reacting and people began falling.

“The shooter was shooting toward the east, otherwise we were dead ducks. We were literally across the street, maybe 25 yards, if that, from where the shooter was,” he said.

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

Leon, now happy he is safe with his wife and family, has this message:

“It can happen to you. I am as unlikely a person to have been this close to something like this than anyone,” Leon said. “The sad thing is, it can happen again tomorrow, next week — it’s scary beyond belief.”