Hours After Mass Shooting, GOP Candidate Says Time to ‘Move On’ and ‘Celebrate’

Illinois state senator Darren Bailey has since apologized “if in any way we diminished the pain being felt across our state today.”
Darren Bailey endorsed by Donald Trump
Illinois gubernatorial hopeful Darren Bailey delivers remarks after receiving an endorsement from Donald Trump during a Save America Rally. Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Hours after a gunman opened fire during an Independence Day parade in a Chicago suburb, Illinois state Sen. Darren Bailey, a Republican, called for people to “move on and… celebrate.” 

The shooting broke out around 10:15 a.m., minutes after the start of the parade in Highland Park, an affluent suburb. At least six people were killed and dozens more injured. The gunman, who police said was using a “high-powered rifle,” is still at large. 

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At around noon local time, Bailey, who is running for governor and has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, went live on Facebook from Skokie, a village about 20 minutes south of Highland Park, where he’d planned to attend a parade. 

After stating that several people had been shot, Bailey called for prayers for the families, law enforcement, and organizers of the Skokie parade, which  was cancelled because of the shooting.

“They’ve done an amazing job. There’s a lot of confusion and frustration that the parade’s being cancelled, but they did the right thing because people’s safety has got to come first,” he said. 

 “The shooter is still at large, so let's pray for justice to prevail and then let’s move on and let’s celebrate the independence of this nation.” 

Bailey, who was standing in a group of people holding campaign signs, then said voters have to “get corruption and evil out of our government.” 

He ended his prayer by calling for celebrations again.  

“Bless us and protect us as we go about our day celebrating the most amazing country,” he said. 

When reached by VICE News, Bailey’s spokesman sent out a statement saying “I apologize if in any way we diminished the pain being felt across our state today.”

“I am heartbroken by today’s tragic events and the pain and loss felt by so many. My intent was to pray for the victims and those affected by today’s tragedy and for the shooter to be caught and prosecuted without further loss,” he said in the statement. 

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“I hope we can all come together in prayer and action to address rampant crime and mental heath [sic] issues to make sure these horrific tragedies don’t happen again.”

In 2020, Bailey’s team held a fundraiser featuring a raffle for a semi-automatic rifle. 

On Sunday. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeted that Bailey “represents the worst of Donald Trump’s agenda.” 

After the shooting, Pritzker said, “Prayers alone will not put a stop to the terror of rampant gun violence in our country.” 

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.