Highland Park mom talks with ABC21 about the impact of July 4th tragedy

Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Erica Bray Manning, her parents, her husband Ryan, and their daughter Skylar headed down Central Avenue in Highland Park on the morning of July 4th.

“It was just so beautiful,” she says. “It was all happening under this blue sky.”

The family had just moved to the suburb from Chicago three days earlier.

“We were eager to participate in our new town’s 4th of July parade,” Bray Manning says.

She wanted to find the best spot, but as a group, the family decided to stop about a block earlier than she had anticipated. They found a good area with some shade and a comfortable seat for her mom. They waited about a half-hour for the parade to begin.

“When it did, there were fire trucks, police cars, sirens, and the marching band. The library was tossing candy to kids going into the street to fetch some. It was perfect,” she says. “I was so grateful at that moment that my husband and I decided to move to Highland Park.”

Erica Bray Manning and Family
Erica Bray Manning and Family(wpta)

Moments later, that feeling was shattered.

“I thought I heard fireworks. My husband turned to me and told me to stay low, and run.”

They found safety in an underground garage and eventually made it home. The family was unharmed, but the days that followed have been filled with painful reflection.

“My heart goes out to everyone in this community,” she says.

Tom Powell talks with Erica Bray Manning
Tom Powell talks with Erica Bray Manning(wpta)

Bray Manning went to high school with ABC21 Anchor Tom Powell.

“Erica and I went to high school together in Orland Park, another Chicago suburb,” Tom said during their interview. “I bring that up to ask you this, when we were in high school we did not think about this, we didn’t have drills for mass shootings. Can you reflect on how life has changed in the past decades and where we need to go from here?”

“The children growing up today have a far different experience and understanding of life as we know it than you and I did in high school. Active shooter drills? Who would have thought that would be a thing, but unfortunately it is. Like so many people, I have been guilty of being desensitized to the number of shootings that have happened over the years. Highland Park will never forget about it. I will never forget about it. Let’s not allow this to continue happening.”

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