Father of 3 tells how his wife’s quick reaction saved the family in parade shooting

A dad of three is recounting how his family escaped owing to his wife’s fast thinking in the midst of panic when a 21-year-old shooter began firing at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, killing seven people and wounding more than 30 more.

Shawn Cotreau, 46, says his three boys, ages 2, 9, and 11, look forward to one thing every year: visiting their grandparents in Highland Park, Illinois, and watching the annual Fourth of July parade.

They adore it, Boston native Cotreau remarked. His wife, Jacqueline, grew up in Highland Park and has resided there for the past 34 years.

He continued that his children were up at 6 a.m. They roused their grandparents and persuaded them to drive one of their automobiles down to where they intended to sit.

Cotreau claims he heard two loud clicks and swiftly turned around, upset that somebody would light fireworks during a parade when his kids were waving at floats and waiting for folks participating in the procession to throw out candy.

Cotreau added that he turned around, and there’s this man with a gun on a roof. And then he just opened up, and all one could hear was gunfire noise that never stopped.

Cotreau claims he couldn’t move at the time because he was staring at the gunman as bullets impacted a tree immediately in front of him.

He explained he was stuck in the sand, staring at this man with a rifle and bullets. His lovely wife got the entire family up.

Cotreau claims Jacqueline, 42, went into action almost once, demanding him to move and fled with their 11- and 9-year-old children. Cotreau then grabbed up his 2-year-old kid and raced to safety, followed his wife and boys down the street before turning a corner and sheltering in the back of a pick-up truck.

He explained, they didn’t know if he was going to leap over the roof or where he may be. When they finally heard the firing cease, they moved from that location, which was probably just 100 or 200 feet from the shooting, to four blocks away and to their other car.

Cotreau and his family provided rides to anybody who was around and in need, and after what he believes to be 35 minutes, they were safely home.

Days later, Cotreau says he can’t stop thinking about how important his wife’s swift response was – a message he wishes all to learn from his experience.

He claims, don’t put it off, no matter who or what it is. Sadly, this will continue, and until we discover anything out, that reaction time is critical for everyone; any family, any individual. His wife did not wait. Thank goodness she was there; three more seconds and those bullets may have been in his body.

Coteau claims that, while his family is fortunate to be alive, they are not undamaged, particularly his two elder sons.

He said, they’re struggling. They had tickets to see the White Sox last night – their grandfather went and his oldest son refused to attend. His younger son and wife went with his father-in-law, and they reported that it was quite difficult. They were shooting off fireworks, which was upsetting.

Coteau says that his elder son is having nightmares and hasn’t been sleeping. His younger kid has been refusing to leave home.

He stated that they really didn’t want to do anything other than hook themselves into their iPads. This is strange considering they enjoy performing activities here. He believes it will take some time for them.

This is their safe haven, so he hopes they enjoy returning here and that this one guy does not destroy everything, he added.

Coteau claims that he and his wife are also struggling.

He explained, his wife constantly tries to be strong – she’s undoubtedly the strongest of all of them. He believes it is worrying her out and tensing her up. She didn’t see what he saw: the shooter and the bullets. She responded to it. He noticed it.

For a couple of hours, he’ll be OK, and then he’ll be sitting there thinking, ‘three feet to the left, and he doesn’t have a family. That was how close it came, Coteau explains.

He claims that before the march began, his youngest kid requested to sit near a location where some people were shot and died. But they didn’t since his elder kid insisted on sitting in the “family place.”

He continued that those bullets would have hit them if they hadn’t sat where we normally sat, if that tree hadn’t been there. He is  just glad none of them were wounded physically.

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