Kevin Kumlien snapped a picture right before a gunman opened fire at the 4th of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. His in-laws, Steven and Dana Johnson of Bozeman, are in the foreground. You can see Kevin’s two-year-old son, one of his four children, waving toward the parade.
“Right away I knew someone was shooting. I just remember hitting the deck and looking for my family,” said Kumlien.
Police say the gunman fired 70 rounds into the crowd.
“One of those moments you never think is going to happen to you, and it’s really surreal the time that it’s happening, not really thinking or processing, just trying to make sure your family was safe,” Kumlien said.
“My wife went into mom mode, and she was gathering the kids. We could not find one of our daughters at first, and our oldest daughter ran and grabbed her, brought her into the store, and so my wife took the kids to a bathroom and locked the door,” he continued.
Steve Johnson is the former Bozeman Schools Deputy Superintendent and was visiting his family in Highland Park with his wife, Dana.
“Dana and I kind of jumped under a car, we did not go completely under but we got in a spot we thought we were safe because we knew, like Kevin said, shots were coming from, we figured it was a roof top behind us,” said Johnson.
“I could see what was going on, people being shot, little ones—it was a war zone,” Dana Johnson said.
“Your natural instinct, I think, takes over,” Steve said. “It’s like the nine-year-old grabbing the six-year-old and taking them inside, mom taking care of kids, us taking care of each other.”
WEB EXTRA: Extended interview with Kevin Kumlien, Steve and Dana Johnson
The gunfire stopped. The family reunited, all of them safe. The hardest part now—the impact of the shooting on Kevin and his wife Danelle’s nine-year-old daughter.
“Every time the fireworks went off, I slept next to her, she would wake up in fear,” said Kevin. ”She’d think that people were shooting at her and she just said, 'Dad, I don’t understand how someone could have so much evil in their heart to want to shoot at kids and their families and their parents just trying to enjoy the 4th of July.'”
Counselors and other support are available in the small town of Highland Park, but it will take a long time for life to return to normal.
“We walked to the park with our grandson to hit some golf balls and I'm looking over my shoulder, just, I mean, I know we're safe, but still—it makes you think you've got to be really aware, aware of your surroundings,” Steve said.
And even though this family will never forget the fear of that day, they will also remember the goodness.
“One very evil person and hundreds and hundreds of really good people that despite not knowing each other were taking care of each other—amidst all that, all of the darkness, there was still light out there,” said Kevin.