What we know about the suspect in the Highland Park parade shooting

Author: Graham Kates / CBS
Published: Updated:
Dozens of mourners gather for a vigil near Central Avenue and St. Johns Avenue in downtown Highland Park, one day after a gunman killed at least seven people and wounded dozens more by firing an AR-15-style rifle from a rooftop onto a crowd attending Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade, Tuesday, July 5, 2022 in Highland Park, Ill.. (Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

Hours after a gunman opened fire on a suburban Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, killing seven people and wounding two dozen, police detained 21-year-old Robert Crimo III. Crimo, who is known as Bobby, was charged Tuesday with seven counts of first-degree murder.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said Wednesday that Crimo admitted to carrying out the shooting.

“His statement was voluntary. He was questioned in the Highland Park Police Department. He was read his Miranda warnings, offered attorneys, et cetera. He went into details about what he had done. He admitted to what he had done,” Rinehart said.

Investigators say the gunman shot at parade-goers from a rooftop at around 10:15 a.m. as the community celebrated Independence Day. A high-powered rifle, “similar to an AR-15,” was recovered at the scene, police said. The suspect was initially described as a young White man with long dark hair.

Lake County Major Crime Task Force Deputy Chief Chris Covelli said at a press conference Tuesday that investigators believe the suspect was disguised in women’s clothing during the shooting “in attempt to conceal himself.”

Covelli said investigators were able to identify Crimo through a combination of video and expedited tracing of the recovered rifle by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that connected it to the suspect.

After the shooting, he is believed to have blended into the crowd and gone to his mother’s home, eventually driving away in a Honda Fit.

He was taken into custody Monday evening after someone spotted the Honda Fit in a nearby suburb, called 911, and police pulled him over. Another rifle was recovered from the car, Covelli said, as well as other firearms at his home. Covelli said the weapons were purchased legally by Crimo in the Chicago region.

Robert E. Crimo III

On Monday afternoon, police and FBI surrounded the family’s home in Highwood, just north of Highland Park. Neighbors told CBS Chicago that Crimo lived there with his father and uncle. His uncle said Crimo stayed in an apartment in the back.

His father, a deli owner, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Highland Park in 2019.

Crimo’s uncle Paul told CBS Chicago he was “heartbroken” by the attack.

“I can’t even believe it right now. (I’m) praying for all the families and for everybody that got injured and hurt,” he said.

He also said he hadn’t noticed any signs that his nephew might commit violence.

“There was no indication at all,” he told CBS Chicago. “There was no indication that I’ve seen at all that would lead up to this.”

But police later detailed two past incidents when concerns had been raised.

“There have been some law enforcement contacts. Nothing of a violent nature,” Covelli said Monday.

Covelli elaborated on those contacts in a briefing Tuesday afternoon. He said in April 2019, an individual contacted Highland Park Police after learning that Crimo had attempted to commit suicide. Police responded to his home but the situation was already being handled by mental health professionals and was not deemed a police matter at the time.

In September 2019, a family member reported that the suspect said he was going to “kill everyone.” Police responded to his residence and removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from the residence, but, Covelli said, there was not probable cause to arrest him. The Illinois State Police were notified of the incident at the time.

Months after those incidents he was allowed to obtain a state firearms owner ID. His father signed a consent form allowing him to buy at least one gun.

Illinois does have a red flag law that allows for guns to be taken away from someone in distress, but the suspect did not own guns at that time, and CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports that the system does not have a way to track complaints about people who are not already in that system.

CBS Chicago reports that in late April there was a brief incident involving Crimo at the Central Avenue Synagogue, not far from the scene of Monday’s attack. A man who works security for the congregation said he saw Crimo walk in during Saturday morning services. Dressed in all black leather, wearing gloves and a backpack, he quickly got the attention of the synagogue’s security team.

“The thought did cross my mind that maybe he is just casing the place,” said Marty Blumenthal, who said he now thinks that’s why the suspect was there.

Blumenthal said several staff members checked Crimo’s bag for weapons, which he didn’t have, and he left after about 45 minutes.

Crimo also went by the stage name Awake the Rapper and posted content online that included violent imagery. On a now-deleted YouTube page, some of his videos featured his hometown, and others including animated scenes of gun violence. In one video that depicts gun violence, he can be heard saying, “I need to leave now. I need to just do it. It is my destiny.”

Covelli said investigators are “reviewing” those videos, but said it is unclear why the shooting happened.

“At this point we have not developed a motivation from him,” Covelli said.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said in an interview Tuesday on “CBS Mornings” that she knew Crimo as a child.

“I was his Cub Scout pack leader. He was a little boy at the time. My heart breaks for everybody in this town,” Rotering said. “I’m not sure what happened to him to compel him to commit this kind of evil in his hometown, but we have a city that is in deep mourning today and we are going to take a long time to heal from all of this.”

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