Hours after a Mexican grandfather was killed and several other family members injured in the deadly shooting at Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade, several of his relatives described to the media the scene of horror they lived on a day that was supposed to be a celebration.
But their pain and grief no longer allows them to speak about the tragedy, said one of his daughters-in-law.
Nicolas Toledo, 76, arrived a few months ago from his native Morelos, Mexico, to spend time with his family after retiring several years ago. The father of eight and grandfather to many, was one of the seven people killed in a mass shooting that has left not only the Toledo family but an entire community traumatized.
Minutes after the parade had started, Toledo — sitting in a wheelchair surrounded by his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren — had been smiling as horses marched down the street, a relative, Elizabeth Vazquez Toledo told local Chicago Spanish news stations the evening after the shooting.
Shortly after, they heard the gunshots that initially appeared to be a part of the celebration but that suddenly struck Toledo, killing him instantly as one of his sons tried to shield him, Vazquez recounted. Three other members of the family were also injured.
“We are living a nightmare,” she said during the interview with Univision.
About 15 members of the Toledo family gathered to attend the parade as part of a family tradition to celebrate the independence of the country that became their home after Toledo immigrated to the area in the 1980s.
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He was a loving man, his granddaughter Xochil Toledo wrote on a GoFundMe page created by the family to collect funds for the funeral expenses.
“But today Nicolas is our guardian angel,” Xochil Toledo added. “We ask you (to) please keep our family and all the families of this horrible tragedy in your prayers and stay strong as a community.”
Though Toledo spent most of his life in the Chicago area, his family said his wish was to return to his beloved Morelos and rest there. They have been in direct contact with Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendivil, the consul general of Mexico in Chicago, to arrange the repatriation process.
“We are saddened by the tragedy that has so deeply impacted members of our community,” Torres Mendivil said. “It pains us to lose a hardworking man that has contributed to this country,” she said.
Torres Mendivil said that the consulate will provide financial and legal services for the Toledo family as needed to ensure that Toledo can rest in his beloved Morelos, but also to assist the family as the investigation of the shooting continues.
“I want to thank every single person from the bottom of (my) heart to anyone who has donated. Words are not enough to say how thankful we are for everyone in our community helping us out in these tough times,” wrote Xochil Toledo on Tuesday afternoon.