Lauren Silva, a mother of two from Deerfield, Illinois, set out Monday morning to have a quiet breakfast with her boyfriend in Highland Park. She ended up caring for the toddler of a parade-shooting victim still covered in his father’s blood.
Silva, 38, told The Daily Beast she woke up craving banana pancakes at Walker Bros., a breakfast spot on a corner of the day’s July 4 parade route.
The former event planner and her boyfriend parked in a nearby garage and emerged to the unfolding scene of carnage.
“We were just opening the door to walk up the stairs and we heard it … boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” Silva said. “And it sounded like someone was, like, pounding on the glass doors. “
In fact, a sniper had opened fire from the rooftop at that very corner, killing seven people and hospitalizing dozens more.
“I didn’t hear one scream at all, it was eerie quiet,” she said.
She and her boyfriend rushed to help those lying on the ground when suddenly, Silva had a toddler thrust into her arms.
“My boyfriend handed me this little boy and said he was underneath this father who was shot in the leg,” she said. “They were trying to stop the bleeding so I brought the boy downstairs into the garage.”
Silva and the boy huddled together for safety, alongside another family.
“He kept asking if mom and dad are going to come back soon,” Silva recalled.
The boy, who she said was still in diapers, had one shoe on, a few scrapes, and a sock that was fully covered in blood.
After cleaning up the boy’s cuts and being downstairs for what she said felt like 20 minutes, Silva reemerged upstairs to ask about the status of his dad. “That’s when my boyfriend said that he passed,” she said. The Daily Beast was not able to confirm that.
Eventually, said Silva, she handed off the boy to the family they had hunkered down with, who said they would take him to the hospital. Later, Silva said, the boy was reunited with his grandparents.
As she coped with her shock at what she had seen, Silva said she kept replaying the time in the garage basement with the child.
“The only thing I could hold onto is that kid’s face and his touch and the sound of his voice,” she said. “I feel like I want to hold on to, like, a little bit of emotion that I feel—which is telling that boy that his dad was going to come back. “