Suspect Charged With 7 Murder 07/06 06:37
A man charged Tuesday with seven counts of murder after firing off more than
70 rounds at an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago legally bought five
weapons, including the high-powered rifle used in the shooting, despite
authorities being called to his home twice in 2019 for threats of violence and
suicide, police said.
HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) -- A man charged Tuesday with seven counts of
murder after firing off more than 70 rounds at an Independence Day parade in
suburban Chicago legally bought five weapons, including the high-powered rifle
used in the shooting, despite authorities being called to his home twice in
2019 for threats of violence and suicide, police said.
Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said the suspect, if convicted of
the first-degree murder charges, would receive a mandatory life sentence
without the possibility of parole. He promised that dozens more charges would
A spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force said the suspected
shooter, who was arrested late Monday, used a rifle "similar to an AR-15" to
spray more than 70 rounds from atop a commercial building into a crowd that had
gathered for the parade in Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000
on the Lake Michigan shore.
A seventh victim died of their injuries Tuesday. More than three dozen other
people were wounded in the attack, which Task force spokesman Christopher
Covelli said the suspect had planned for several weeks.
The assault happened less than three years after police went to the
suspect's home following a call from a family member who said he was
threatening "to kill everyone" there. Covelli said police confiscated 16
knives, a dagger and a sword, but said there was no sign he had any guns at the
time, in September 2019.
Police in April 2019 also responded to a reported suicide attempt by the
suspect, Covelli said.
The suspect legally purchased the rifle used in the attack in Illinois
within the past year, Covelli said. In all, police said, he purchased five
firearms, which were recovered by officers at his father's home.
The revelation about his gun purchases is just the latest example of y oung
men who were able to obtain guns and carry out massacres in recent months
despite glaring warning signs about their mental health and inclination to
Illinois state police, who issue gun owners' licenses, said the gunman
applied for a license in December 2019, when he was 19. His father sponsored
At the time "there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present
danger" and deny the application, state police said in a statement.
Investigators who have interrogated the suspect and reviewed his social
media posts have not determined a motive or found any indication that he
targeted victims by race, religion or other protected status, Covelli said.
Earlier in the day, FBI agents peeked into trash cans and under picnic
blankets as they searched for more evidence at the scene. The shots were
initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of revelers fled in terror.
A day later, baby strollers, lawn chairs and other items left behind by
panicked parade goers remained inside a wide police perimeter. Outside the
police tape, some residents drove up to collect blankets and chairs they
David Shapiro, 47, said the gunfire quickly turned the parade into "chaos."
"People didn't know right away where the gunfire was coming from, whether
the gunman was in front or behind you chasing you," he said Tuesday as he
retrieved a stroller and lawn chairs.
The gunman initially evaded capture by dressing as a woman and blending into
the fleeing crowd, Covelli said.
The shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life.
Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become
killing grounds in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation
tried to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.
A police officer pulled over 21-year-old Robert E. Crimo III north of the
shooting scene several hours after police released his photo and warned that he
was likely armed and dangerous, Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said.
His father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, ran for mayor in 2019. The candidate
who won that race, current Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, said she knew
Crimo as a boy in Cub Scouts.
"And it's one of those things where you step back and you say, 'What
happened?" Rotering told NBC's "Today" show. "How did somebody become this
angry, this hateful, to then take it out on innocent people who literally were
just having a family day out?"
Crimo's attorney, Thomas A. Durkin, a prominent Chicago-based lawyer, said
he intends to enter a not guilty plea to all charges.
Asked about his client's emotional state, Durkin said he has spoken to Crimo
only once -- for 10 minutes by phone. He declined to comment further.
Steve Greenberg, the lawyer for the parents, told The Associated Press
Tuesday evening the parents aren't concerned about being charged with anything
related to their son's case.
"There is zero chance they will be charged with anything criminal," he said.
"They didn't do anything wrong. They are as stunned and shocked as anyone."
The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had
staked out prime viewing points early in the day.
Among them was Nicolas Toledo, who was visiting his family in Illinois from
Mexico, and Jacki Sundheim, a lifelong congregant and staff member at nearby
North Shore Congregation Israel. The Lake County coroner released the names of
four other victims.
Nine people, ranging from 14 to 70, remained hospitalized Tuesday, hospital
Since the start of the year, the U.S. has seen 15 shootings where four or
more people were killed, including the one in Highland Park, according to The
Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University mass killing database.
Scores of smaller-scale shootings in nearby Chicago also left eight people
dead and 60 others wounded over the July 4 weekend.
In 2013, Highland Park officials approved a ban on semi-automatic weapons
and large-capacity ammunition magazines. A local doctor and the Illinois State
Rifle Association quickly challenged the liberal suburb's stance. The legal
fight ended at the U.S. Supreme Court's doorstep in 2015 when justices declined
to hear the case and let the suburb's restrictions remain in place.
Under Illinois law, gun purchases can be denied to people convicted of
felonies, addicted to narcotics or those who are termed "mental defectives" and
capable of harming themselves or others. That might have stopped a suicidal
Crimo from getting a weapon.
But under the law, just who is a "mental defective" must be decided by "a
court, board, commission or other legal authority."
The state has a so-called red flag law designed to stop dangerous people
before they kill, but it requires family members, relatives, roommates or
police to ask a judge to order guns seized.
Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage
name Awake the Rapper, posting on social media dozens videos and songs, some
ominous and violent.
In one animated video since taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies
"walking in darkness" as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on
the ground and another figure with hands up in the distance.
Federal agents were reviewing Crimo's online profiles, and a preliminary
examination of his internet history indicated that he had researched mass
killings and had downloaded multiple photos depicting violent acts, including a
beheading, a law enforcement official said.
The official could not discuss details of the investigation publicly and
spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who had been in Chicago to address the
National Education Association's annual meeting Tuesday, visited the site of
the shooting to offer condolences to first responders and local officials.
"The whole nation should understand and have a level of empathy, to
understand that this can happen anywhere, in any peace loving community,"
Harris said in brief comments to reporters in Highland Park. "And we should
stand together and speak out about why it's got to stop."
Shapiro, the Highland Park resident who fled the parade with his family,
said his 4-year-old son woke up screaming later that night.
"He is too young to understand what happened," Shapiro said. "But he knows
something bad happened."