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Overland Park woman recalls growing up in Highland Park

Mass shooting in Highland Park killed 7
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Posted at 8:15 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-06 23:13:43-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo — Several deadly mass shootings over the Fourth of July weekend have left lasting impacts all across the nation, and the Kansas City area is no exception.

Ellen Sommi, who has lived in Overland Park for the last 35 years, woke up Monday morning to sounds of panic.

Phone calls and text messages came pouring in from Highland Park, Illinois, after a gunman killed seven people and injured 47 others in her hometown.

“I basically spent my Fourth of July watching the news to see what was happening,” Sommi said. “I was texting friends, cousins, we were all over Facebook. High school friends of mine were checking in to let people know they were safe. Um, it’s still going on.”

Sommi grew up in Highland Park from kindergarten to high school.

She lived right on the lake and attending the Fourth of July parade was a yearly summer tradition in the community.

“I remember it from when I was a kid, we went every year. It was just what the community did — you came together and watched the Fourth of July parade,” Sommi said. “You can’t go to a Fourth of July parade without potentially being a victim and that should scare all of us.”

A friend of Sommi’s sister and her husband was somewhere in the crowd when the gunfire broke out. Fortunately they escaped unharmed.

“Unharmed physically — I don’t think anybody escaped unharmed emotionally,” Sommi said.

She says the Fourth of July will never be the same for her quiet hometown.

However, she has faith in the mayor of Highland Park — Nancy Rotering — who she graduated with from high school.

“She is super competent and a wonderful person, and I know she is gonna help her community work through this the best way she can,” Sommi said.