Parade tragedy hits home
Two from family with FD ties dead, 2-year-old orphaned
When former Fort Dodge resident Amy Kersten Bruno finally got in touch with her cousin following a shooting at a suburban Chicago Independence Day parade, something the other woman said gave the tragedy a sharp personal focus.
“I remember interrupting and saying “Did you just say you were shot?” Bruno said.
Her cousin, Margo Wolf McCarthy, had indeed been shot.
The news for the extended Kersten family got worse.
The family later learned that McCarthy’s son, Kevin McCarthy, 37, and his wife, Irina McCarthy, 35, had been killed.
Kevin and Irina McCarthy’s 2-year-old son, Aiden, survived unharmed.
“I’m so numb,” Bruno said during a phone interview Tuesday evening. “You can’t even conceive of the idea that this happened to someone you know.”
“What a waste of wonderful people on this earth,” she added.
Margo Wolf McCarthy is the daughter of Frances Ann Kersten, who grew up in Fort Dodge.
Margo Wolf McCarthy is a cousin of Jim Kersten, Ann Kersten and Steve Kersten, all of Fort Dodge; and Amy Kersten Bruno, of Highland Park, Illinois.
Bruno said that McCarthy grew up in Chicago and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but came to Fort Dodge in the summers to visit her cousins.
Bruno, who had served most recently as the program director for the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, moved to the Chicago area late last year to be closer to her children. She bought a house in Highland Park.
She said part of the parade route was about two blocks from her house and the site of Monday’s shooting is about six to eight blocks from her house.
Bruno said she was at home and didn’t know anything bad had happened until she got a text from her son, who asked if she was alright. Soon, she heard helicopters clattering overhead and received alerts from local authorities advising her to shelter in place.
She texted Wolf McCarthy, who later called her back with the grim news that she had been shot and that she was desperately seeking her son, daughter-in-law and grandson.
Little Aiden McCarthy was reunited with relatives at the Highland Park police station.
Much later, the worst possible news came from the Lake County Coroner’s Office: Kevin and Irina McCarthy were confirmed to be dead.
Based on her conversations with her cousin, Bruno learned what happened.
She said the McCarthy family was sitting on the curb to watch the parade. She said Margo Wolf McCarthy suddenly felt as if she had been hit in the head with a bat and fell into the street. When she looked around, she could not see her son, daughter-in-law or grandson.
She had been struck by a bullet that hit near her ear and passed through her neck. No major blood vessels or nerves were damaged.
“It’s a miracle it hit where it did,” Bruno said.
Margo Wolf McCarthy was treated at a local hospital and released.
When the shooting started, Kevin and Irina McCarthy ran west from where they had been watching the parade and were shot.
Michael Levberg, the father of Irina McCarthy, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Aiden McCarthy was found under his father’s body.
Bruno said Highland park is now a “very somber” community.
But it hasn’t lost its sense of community. She said a neighbor brought her a plate of baked goods and told her he was doing that for everyone in the neighborhood.
Bruno said Americans need to rally and make sure nothing like the parade shooting happens again.
“It’s not going to be easy,” she said.