A 4th of July parade in the suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, that was meant to be a joyous occasion turned tragic when a human opened fire on the parade crowd. Many people lost loved ones, including the Toledo family. Here's how they remembered their beloved Nicolas Toledo.
The 4th of July is one of America's most loved holidays. Every year, millions of people take to the streets for parades and parties that honor their country.
The Toledo family did just the same in 2022 when they joined a parade in the suburb of Highland Park, Illinois. Sadly, the joyous parade turned tragic when a gunman opened fire on the crowd, killing seven people, including one of their own, Nicolas Toledo.
Nicolas was a 76-year-old loving father of eight children, many more grandchildren, and even a great-granddaughter. He had been visiting his family for approximately two months from Morelos, Mexico.
During those months, his family tried to convince him to move to Illinois permanently to be closer to them. Nicolas's relatives also wanted him to be closer to them so they could take care of him after he was injured by a car a few years earlier.
Xochil, one of Nicolas's granddaughters, said, reflected on her grandfather's favorite hobbies, including coloring, fishing, and taking long walks around Highland Park.
ON THE DAY OF THE PARADE
On the day of the 4th of July parade, Nicolas was reluctant to attend the parade, but he went with his family anyway.
Xochil also explained that her father attempted to protect Nicolas from the bullet, and was shot in the arm while doing so.
Nicolas was reluctant to attend because he used a walker and thought there would be a large crowd at the parade, making it difficult for him to move around freely.
NICOLAS SAVED HIS FAMILY'S LIVES
But the Toledo family didn't want Nicolas to remain home by himself, so he agreed to attend the parade. While the festivities carried on, Xochil said that Nicolas delighted in living in the moments of the festivities.
But every attendant's happiness was brutally cut short when a gunman randomly opened fire, and Nicolas sadly died at the scene.
Reflecting on the events of the day, Xochil recalled that Nicolas was the one who suffered the three gunshots aimed at their family. She added: "He was the one who saved all of our lives, [they] would have gone to me, my boyfriend, or my cousins."
THE CHAOS DURING THE SHOOTING
Xochil lauded her family's actions when describing the chaos that ensued after the gunman opened fire on the crowd. She explained that her father attempted to protect Nicolas from the bullet and was shot in the arm while doing so.
Xochil's father and a cousin remained by Nicolas's side as people fled from the gunman. Xochil said that the entire family was shocked and couldn't breathe from the chaos that swirled around them
During the chaos, Xochil also noticed that the gunman had shot her boyfriend. He and her father were quickly rushed to the hospital, and Xochil's father was soon released after receiving treatment.
Nicolas also loved a home-cooked meal over restaurant food. He had a lovable sense of humor and would often joke about his wife taking his shoes from him.
THE TOLEDO FAMILY'S REFLECTIONS
Another of Nicolas's granddaughters, Kimberly Rangel, explained that the family was shattered inside from everything that happened to Nicolas on that fateful day. She also said that the family was feeling numb from the tragedy
Rangel continued to request that people love their families amidst this unexpected tragedy. She said:
"We didn't expect this to happen so close to home and it did. And it's not just my family affected. There are so many other families affected by this and I just hope everyone hold your family tight tonight."
THE TOLEDO FAMILY GOFUNDME PAGE
The Toledo family established a GoFundMe page in memory of Nicolas. The page partially reads, "We ask you please keep our family and all the families of this horrible tragedy in your prayers and stay strong as a community."
Nicolas Toledo's story is a reminder of the importance of a family's love, even in the midst of tragedy. Have you ever lost a loved one unexpectedly? How did you heal after the loss?
Click here to read about a mom who lost her daughter in a car accident and later noticed a heartwarming letter from her in the car months later.
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