A bloody Independence Day in Highland Park


Nothing was said about it on the July 4 television interviews I saw, but among the security experts interviewed during coverage of the Highland Park parade shooting, one face and name had resonance. Crisis management expert and former FBI agent Phil Andrew survived another mass shooting in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs, more than three decades ago.

On May 20, 1988, Laurie Dann—who’d been under care for psychiatric problems—delivered poison-laced snacks to acquaintances, attempted to burn down a Highland Park school, set a house on fire with the family (for whom she’d babysat) inside, and shot six children at Winnetka’s Hubbard Woods elementary school, killing one. Fleeing that scene, she barged into the Andrew home, where she eventually shot Phil, then a 20-year-old college student, and killed herself.

I wondered what Phil Andrew, who went on to become a violence prevention advocate, would say about the fact that, 34 years later, mass shootings have become relatively commonplace. Surely he’d agree with me that no 21st-century civilian needs a gun? As it turns out, not exactly. Here’s an edited version of our conversation.

Deanna Isaacs: What about this latest incident?

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