Jewish toddler loses both parents in Highland Park parade shooting

Gofundme campaign brings in nearly $2 million for two-year-old Aiden McCarthy, who will be raised by his grandparents.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A Jewish toddler was saved in the Highland Park Fourth of July parade shooting Monday by his father, who died shielding him with his body.

Kevin and Irina were at an Independence Day parade in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Highland Park with their two-year-old son Aiden when a gunman opened fire on the crowd.

Both parents, in their thirties, were among the seven killed. Some 50 others were injured either by gunshots or while fleeing. As of Wednesday morning, nine people were still hospitalized.

Police arrested 21-year-old Robert Crimo III, who faces seven charges of first degree murder.

Lauren Silva, who had come to the area to enjoy a breakfast out with her boyfriend and his son, described to the Daily Beast how she found Aiden after hearing the gun shots.

“My boyfriend handed me this little boy and said he was underneath this father who was shot in the leg,” Silva said. “They were trying to stop the bleeding so I brought the boy downstairs into the garage.”

“He kept asking if mom and dad are going to come back soon,” she said of the diapered two-and-a-half year old, who she noted was wearing only one shoe and had on a sock covered in blood.

She cleaned the toddler’s cuts with a first-aid kit she had in the car, while trying to calm him down and telling him that “his dad was going to come back,” the paper said.

Silva said she gave the boy to someone who said he’d be taken to a hospital. Meanwhile, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Aiden’s maternal grandfather Michael Levberg said that Aiden had been seen “walking in the street.”

Pictures were taken of the little lost boy and posted on a neighborhood watch website, where Adrienne Rosenblatt, 71, saw it after escaping from the parade herself. She knew the whole family, and went to the Levbergs’ home to show them the photo and tell the grandparents where they could find their grandson.

“A neighbor passed by, she showed me the picture, it was Aiden,” Levberg said. “I picked him up at the [Highland Park] police station.”

He also confirmed his son-in-law’s heroism, saying, “He had Aiden under his body when he was shot.”

“They were crazy about their child,” he said. “They were planning two.”

Michael and his wife, Nina, had emigrated to Chicago from Russia with their only daughter, Irina, when she was a schoolchild.

According to a GoFundMe page that friends immediately set up, the Levbergs will now raise the little boy.

“Aiden will be cared for by his loving grandparents, Misha and Nina Levberg, and he will have a long road ahead to heal, find stability and ultimately navigate life as an orphan,” the page said in part. “He is surrounded by a community of friends and extended family that will embrace him with love and any means available to ensure he has everything he needs as he grows.”

By Wednesday morning, over $1.8 million had been raised, with donations coming from almost 40,000 people.