HIGHLAND PARK, Illinois — Andy Alcorn likes to ride his bicycle to find peace. On the Fourth of July, his bike ride through the Chicago suburbs instead ended in the crossfire of an American tragedy.

Alcorn became a witness to the Highland Park Fourth of July shooting, where a gunman killed seven people and injured at least thirty others during an Independence Day parade.

“Ten minutes into the parade, something sounded like firecrackers…we looked around to see who had the fireworks,” said Alcorn. “Once I saw what was happening, I said, ‘This is live fire. Everybody get out.'”

Alcorn said he recognized the sound of gunfire due to his service in the Army during Operation Desert Storm. He immediately went into action shepherding paradegoers away from the route.

“I was on the corner of the building on the street right where the parade route started. I’m just telling everybody, ‘Get on the other side of the building where the muffin shop is,'” Alcorn said. “It was just pure chaos. Everyone was running and I wanted to make sure that nobody would get trampled.”

He said he had one moment of peace during the chaos when he consoled a young girl who was in the parade.

“She just comes up to me and gives me the biggest hug in the world,” Alcorn said. “She was hyperventilating really badly, so I showed her a breathing exercise I use, and she calmed down. She then gave me another hug, and we cried a little bit more.”

Alcorn did not plan on going to the parade, he said he was only in Highland Park because he was training for a long bike ride through Iowa later this year. He pedaled 25 miles from his home in Grayslake, Illinois to Highland Park, and the return ride was the hardest route of his life.

“On the way back, all I could think about was how many people are not going to feel safe any more on the Fourth of July,” Alcorn said. “What’s going to happen next year? What’s going to happen for the next big events? There’s always that possibility of the next person being out there.”

Alcorn said he has not picked up his bicycle since the Fourth of July, but he still intends to ride through Iowa later this year.