EXCLUSIVE: Redwood City father grateful he, sons were unhurt at Highland Park parade shooting

Karina Nova Image
Thursday, July 14, 2022
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A Redwood City man is speaking out after he and his family survived the mass shooting at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- For 11-year-old Eli and 9-year-old Dex, going to Highland Park for the July Fourth parade with their dad, Adam Schlifke, was becoming an annual tradition.

"It's sort of an honor for a kid to be on a float and so they were really looking forward to it and they enjoy spending time with the family and seeing everybody, but they were really excited about being on the float for sure," Schlifke says.

Their grandparents live in Highland Park and Schlifke's mom's business has a float in the annual parade.

But as we all know now, the joy of this year's parade quickly turned into terror when a gunman perched on a rooftop shot into the crowds.

"After hearing maybe 20 rounds, then it became pretty obvious that they were gun shots and then we heard another like 30 or 40 rounds of shots," Schlifke describes.

VIDEO: Illinois parade shooting: Orphaned toddler doesn't know parents are dead, family tells ABC News

Like everyone else on Central Avenue, Adam found himself running, looking for somewhere to hide.

"When I was going around the corner, there was like a brick wall like support beam and I was just thinking, well, I can hide behind this, if this you know, if the shots come towards us but that's what I was thinking at the time, is like you know where I can hide to get away from the gunshots," he says.

Schlifke's family was fortunate. Adam, his stepfather and stepbrother were able to escape the gunfire. They eventually learned his mother and sons were safe too.

All of them made it to his parent's condo in downtown Highland Park.

That's where they waited for hours while police searched for the shooter, who killed seven people and wounded dozens others.

Schlifke says what he saw that day replays in his head.

RELATED: Highland Park parade shooting suspect's father says he is not culpable for son's attack

"Running that's what I see oftentimes, it's just everybody running and you know, really scared about what was happening," he says.

Since that day he's also had to have conversations and answer questions from his kids.

"They hear about these shootings a lot, pretty frequently and so it's almost not a shock when it should be. I think at the end of the day, they just want to know that they're in a place where they can be safe and be comfortable with their friends and their family," Schlifke says.

He says the feeling of safety for all of them is one that will take time to recover.

"A city like Redwood City is like a city like Highland Park, so your town can be super safe but people come from outside of the town and bring in guns. It'll be some time I think before things are back to normal for me and the way that I think about going to big events," he says about recovering from the trauma.

VIDEO: 'Funny' grandfather, parents of toddler among parade shooting victims: 7 killed identified

Schlifke says he is grateful he and his family were not hurt.

But his heart breaks for the people who were impacted and lost loved ones.

Nine days after the Highland Park shooting, families joined other mass shooting survivors in Washington D.C. That's where they participated in a march and demanded lawmakers pass a federal ban on assault weapons.

The suspect in the parade shooting is facing several felony charges.

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