For the first time, the police chief in suburban Highland Park reveals his thoughts on Monday’s shooting that left seven people dead, and discusses what it was like as authorities tried to locate the suspect behind the heinous crime.
Police Chief Lou Jogmen says that he was enjoying a chance to catch up with old friends and his fellow residents on Monday morning when gunfire rang out.
“Just shortly into the parade, we heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire,” he told reporters, including NBC 5’s Stefan Holt. “There was no question when you heard it, what it was.”
Jogmen says that the location of the shooting made ascertaining where it was coming from extremely difficult.
“You couldn’t pinpoint it, because it was bouncing between the buildings,” he said. “And really the only way we could identify where the person was, was that I could see people running away from a certain area.”
As the smoke cleared, and as medics began tending to the wounded, Jogmen and the department were tasked with finding an armed shooter, a task that would prove to be difficult.
“We didn’t have a very good description,” he said. “That was concerning. We didn’t have a good trail, and that was very concerning. My overwhelming fear was ‘what if this person wasn’t going to be identified or brought to account?’ That was just unacceptable for us.”
As we’ve learned in the days that have followed the shooting, the suspect was wearing women’s clothing, and had put makeup onto tattoos on his face to help conceal his identity.
Fortunately for police, the suspect left a vital clue behind: his rifle.
“There was a dark pallor over the command center, but as soon as the ATF got involved and really expedited that trace and figured out that person, the name was read and a number of our officers knew the name,” he said. “We knew we were on to a suspect.”
Jogmen says that police put out the license plate and suspect description as soon as they could, and shortly thereafter a resident spotted his vehicle on U.S. 41, calling police.
“That person took it upon themselves to call police, and got involved knowing the seriousness of what this person did,” he said.
During that time that he was at-large, the suspect told police that he had considered going on another shooting rampage in Wisconsin, but ultimately he didn’t follow through on that thought despite having a loaded weapon in his vehicle.
“He said he had contemplated engaging in another shooting at a parade in the (Madison) area,” he said. “We’re not sure why he elected not to, but I think I can say we are all fortunate that he did.”
Now that the suspect is in custody, and as a community begins to heal, Jogmen says that he has thought about what future holidays, including the Fourth of July, will bring to the area.
“It’s a balance. We have to celebrate the Fourth of July. It’s an important date in our world, in our country,” he said. “It’s not lost on us that we had people killed, and we have family members that may not heal. They’re going to struggle. We want to move forward and talk about healing, but that really is the goal for our community, like so many others before us.”
The suspect in the case has been ordered held without bail, and faces seven counts of first-degree murder in connection to the shooting.