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Teamwork delivers standout AP coverage of July 4 mass shooting

A woman wipes at tears after a mass shooting at the Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Ill., July 4, 2022. Seven people died and dozens were injured. (AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh)

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AP reporters, photographers, video journalists and Central Desk editors jumped in from the U.S. and Mexico, delivering fast, multiformat coverage on the July Fourth mass shooting at a parade in Highland Park, Illinois, that ultimately resulted in seven deaths and dozens wounded.

Initial reports of a shooting at a July 4th parade in a suburb north of Chicago were vague and not well sourced, but AP journalists Katie Foody and Andrea Thomas were on duty in Chicago and quickly got out word of the shooting and an early eyewitness account. Colleague Michael Tarm, who lived in Highland Park for several years, immediately went to the scene, which was still in chaos, providing on-the-scene accounts from witnesses and deep knowledge of the community for context.

Tarm was joined by Chicago-based photographer Nam Huh who captured early images from the area where the shooting occurred. The story was updated several times before official word from police came out in a news conference: five people dead initially and at least 19 hospitalized. No one was in custody.

Chicago-based reporter/video journalist Martha Irvine was also dispatched to the scene as was Detroit-based reporter/video journalist Mike Householder shooting video and providing feeds for text. Illinois news editor Roger Schneider went live via the Bambuser app for three police news conferences. Staffers from around the country — several of whom interrupted their holiday — fed reporting from New York,Washington, Atlanta and elsewhere to provide the first detailed information on the person of interest and updates on the law enforcement search.

Also among those making important contributions to the breaking coverage:
— Fabiola Sánchez in Mexico City reported that one of those killed and two of the wounded were from Mexico; one of the wounded later died.
— South Dakota-based Stephen Groves took over the writing lead midafternoon.
— Investigative reporters Jim Mustian and Bernard Condon gathered information on the suspect and his parents.
— Lead Department of Justice reporter Mike Balsamo worked FBI sources.
— Dallas-based Dave Koenig stepped in as national reporter,tracking down officials and witnesses.
— Detroit’s David Aguilar took over as lead Central Desk editor for the afternoon and evening.
— Atlanta’s Jeff Martin sought out witnesses and user-generated content.

Throughout the day and into the evening the story had 37 writethrus. There were also four APNewsAlerts with the last one at 6:52 p.m. CT: the suspect was in custody, nearly nine hours after more than 80 rounds were shot into the crowd with a semi-automatic rifle.

Monday’s efforts laid the groundwork for the reporting in the days that followed,including more breaking news updates, victim profiles, a narrative on how the events unfolded, explainers, an investigative piece on how the suspect was able to get weapons despite Illinois’ red flag law and more.

The mainbar story trended near the top on AP platforms for much of the week and made the front page of newspapers across the country,including the Los Angeles Times,New Orleans Times-Picayune, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Times-Tribune of Scranton to name a few.

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