Fatal shooting of man at July 4 party mistaken by crowd for fireworks

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A man was shot and killed during a Fourth of July party in Highland Park - but people there didn't realize what happened at first, thinking the gunshots were fireworks.

Antonio Smith is described as a quiet person who got along with just about everyone. So friends of the 30-year-old man can't understand why someone would take his life.

Highland Park police say Tuesday night that more than 250 people had been enjoying the July 4 block party at Midland and Third Street.

"It was a substantial block party, a nice Fourth of July celebration, very friendly," said Det. Paul Thomas, Highland Park police.

Police say the field was packed with people when someone managed to sneak right behind Smith firing a single gunshot into the back of his head, killing him.

"With the amount of people and confusion in general, that person escaped the scene," Thomas said.

Sources say Smith called his girlfriend to let her know the fireworks were starting but when she pulled up to the party, Smith was already dead.

Many witnesses told police they didn't even realize what had happened until the fireworks were over.

"We still believe there are individuals who know more than what they are saying," Thomas said.

Police are unsure whether the shooter had already been in the large crowd or if they showed up only to shoot Smith.

"We think it was personal and that they knew each other," Thomas said. "And that the shooter had a beef with the victim."

Police with help from ATF agents and canine units searched the field for evidence Wednesday afternoon.

As Smith's family and friends are stunned and sickened by Smith's killing police hope those that know who killed this young father will come forward.

"Anyone that would have such wanton disregard for human life," Thomas said. "We want to see him taken into custody and removed from this community."

Anyone with information should contact Highland Park police at (313) 852-7338