Michla Schanowitz was outside her synagogue at the heart of the parade route in Highland Park, Illinois, just four blocks away from where the shooting happened, when she saw crowds running towards her.
“We were sitting peacefully, enjoying ourselves — such a good feeling. The weather was nice, people were out. It was a very warm, connected, friendly community. And it was about 10 minutes into the parade, and it became clear that something had gone wrong,” she told CNN. “I just see people abandoning their chairs, their blankets, strollers, and people just running, running towards where we were.”
That’s when she guided her great nieces and nephews — the oldest of them was 10 years old — into the synagogue and opened the doors to anyone else looking for shelter.
“Calmly, I just said to the children, ‘we’re going to go inside the synagogue. It is a hot day, we’ll get a drink.’ [I] opened the doors and invited anybody in the area who was sitting there, because everyone was looking for shelter. ‘Just come inside, come inside, door is open, come in the synagogue, we’ll be safe in here,'” Schanowitz added.
She said she is still processing what happened yesterday.
“It is difficult. It is very hard to process. There is a lot to process. It is unfathomable that something like this can happen in our country,” Schanowitz said.