Highland Park shooting victim Irina McCarthy, killed alongside her husband, laid to rest; mourners vow to carry on memory for couple’s orphaned son

Highland Park shooting victim Irina McCarthy, killed alongside her husband, laid to rest; mourners vow to carry on memory for couple’s orphaned son

Mourners at the funeral service Tuesday for Irina McCarthy, who was killed in the Highland Park parade shooting along with her husband, Kevin, recalled she was a “wonderful mom” and vowed to care for the 2-year-old son the couple left behind.

“Our hearts are shattered. The pain is unbearable. There are rivers of tears. We don’t want to be here, nor should we be here today,” Rabbi Dovid Flinkenstein said at the service, held at a Wilmette funeral home eight days after the Fourth of July gunfire killed the couple and five others.

The McCarthys were the youngest among the seven people who were fatally shot that morning; Irina was 35 and Kevin 37. Their toddler son, Aiden, was scooped up by a stranger during the shooting and reunited with his grandfather after the boy’s photo was widely circulated on social media.

A close friend who spoke at Irina’s funeral said the couple loved their child like no parents he had seen before. Every time he looks at the toddler, he sees Irina in his blue eyes and smile, he said.

“You have been left behind as an orphan and you will be cared for by all of us. You have a family, a home, and you will thrive and grow with all of us,” the friend said.

Another friend recalled meeting McCarthy as a second grader at Highland Park’s Sherwood Elementary School.

“Irina flourished and blossomed as a mother,” the friend said. “It’s no surprise that Aiden’s fine personality is already shining through. Irina was always laughing and cracking jokes.”

Another friend also remembered McCarthy’s great sense of humor, calmness and sensitivity.

”She had an air of being above anything petty or mean-spirited, always thoughtful,” the friend said. “Her world was her family. And she was her family’s world.”

McCarthy’s work manager said she’ll miss the jokes and questions about family that Irina would start meetings with.

“Aiden will become well aware of what a wonderful mom he was blessed with and will feel the love from the solid tracks she laid,” another co-worker said.

A GoFundMe fundraiser established for Aiden McCarthy, and verified by the platform, had topped $3.2 million in donations as of Tuesday morning.

“In the aftermath of the Highland Park, IL shootings on July 4, the North Shore community rallied to help a boy who we knew nothing about. We took him to safety under tragic circumstances, came together to locate his grandparents, and prayed for the safety of his family,” the organizer of the site wrote.

Organizers later wrote that they’ve received support from all over the world.

Mourners including Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering were among those in attendance at Irina McCarthy’s funeral. She was due to be buried in Skokie after the service. No funeral arrangements for Kevin McCarthy have been publicly announced.

Irina McCarthy’s father, Michael Levberg, told the Tribune last week his daughter was born in Moscow and that the family moved to Chicago a couple of years later. They later relocated to Highland Park, where Irina grew up and returned to raise her own family, Levberg said.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from DePaul University in 2009, as did her future husband in 2011, a university spokesman said.

Irina and Kevin met while working together at Physicians Interactive in the northern suburbs, Levberg said, and had been married for about five years.

Irina McCarthy worked at the North Chicago-based pharmaceutical company Abbvie, where she was a manager in oncology, according to LinkedIn.

Levberg said that after the shooting, he was eventually reunited with his grandson later that day at the local police station.

“When I picked him up, he said, ‘Are Mommy and Daddy coming soon?’” Levberg said. “He doesn’t understand.”

At Irina’s funeral, Flinkenstein called on mourners to meet the darkness of McCarthy’s death with “a double measure of light.”

“Because in the presence of light, darkness vanishes,” he said.

“The soul never dies,” Flinkenstein said. “While Irina once lived amongst us, she will now live within us.”

A gunman has been charged with murder in the shooting and is being held without bail by lake County authorities.

The others who were killed were Katherine Goldstein, 64; Stephen Straus, 88; Jacquelyn “Jacki” Sundheim, 63, all of Highland Park; Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, of Morelos, Mexico; and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, of Waukegan.

Funerals for other victims began Friday and continued over the weekend.