Darren Bailey apologized for comments he made less than two hours after the Highland Park shooting.
In a live stream, Bailey urged people to “move on and celebrate the independence of this nation.”
Bailey later said he was sorry if his comments “diminished the pain being felt across our state.”
A Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate in Illinois has apologized for telling people to “move on” just hours after Monday’s mass shooting in Chicago’s Highland Park suburb.
In a Facebook live stream at 11.45 a.m., less than two hours after the incident, Illinois State Senator Darren Bailey was seen with a group of people in Skokie village, located just outside of Chicago. During the stream, he said that Skokie’s 4th of July parade was canceled because of the shooting, which has left six dead and dozen injured.
“Friends, let’s pray for the law enforcement and even the organizers of this parade,” Bailey was heard saying. “The shooter is still at large. So let’s pray for justice to prevail, and then let’s move on and let’s celebrate the independence of this nation.”
Police subsequently arrested the 22-year-old shooting suspect on Monday evening.
“We know the mission — we have got to get corruption and evil out of our government, and we have got to elect men and women of honor and courage to get this country and this state back on track,” Bailey continued.
“Right now, if you would join me in prayer for the families affected and for the law enforcement as they do their jobs. It’s been a tough weekend in Chicago,” Bailey said, before leading a prayer.
Bailey later released a statement apologizing for some of his comments during the live stream.
“My intent was to pray for the victims and those affected by today’s tragedy and for the shooter to be caught and prosecuted without further loss,” Bailey said in a statement seen by Insider. “I apologize if in any way we diminished the pain being felt across our state today.”
On Twitter, Bailey said that he and his family were sending “heartfelt prayers” to the shooting victims, and called for a “special session to address crime on our streets.”
Bailey is a gun-rights advocate and once held a raffle for people to win a Hammerli TAC R1 22 rifle to push ticket sales for a fundraiser.
Bailey obtained the backing of former President Donald Trump in an endorsement in June at a Trump rally. At the event, Trump described Bailey as being the “opposite” of Illinois’ current Democratic governor, J. B. Pritzker.
On Monday, Pritzker hit out at Bailey in a tweet, saying he “represents the worst of Donald Trump’s agenda.”
“Now with Trump’s endorsement, Bailey is ready to bring the same dangerous policies to our state,” Pritzker tweeted. “I’ve always promised Illinois will be a firewall against Trump’s destructive agenda. We will continue that fight.”
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