Hours after gunfire interrupted the July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Illinois, killing six people and injuring dozens, police arrested the man they believe was responsible.
Authorities allege that Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, climbed onto the roof of a nearby business and opened fire on the parade minutes after it started. He has since been charged with seven counts of first degree murder.
If convicted, he would face a maximum life sentence with no possibility of parole, Illinois state attorney Eric Reinhard said as he announced the charges at a news conference.
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The prosecutor said the first-degree charges are likely to be followed by dozens of additional charges.
He said he would request that Crimo remain in custody without bail upon the suspect’s first appearance on Wednesday.
Investigators believe the accused had “planned this attack for several weeks,” Chris Covelli, spokesman for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, said at a news conference Tuesday.
He dressed in women’s clothing to hide his identity, Covelli said, blending into the crowd as they fled the area and headed to his mother’s house.
Law enforcement officers have yet to determine a motive, but Covelli said there is no information to suggest the attack was “racially motivated, motivated by religion or other protected status”. There is no indication that anyone else was involved, Covelli said.
Crimo was taken into custody shortly after police publicly identified him as a “person of interest” who, according to the FBI, was “wanted for his alleged involvement in the shooting of multiple people” during the Highland Park Independence Day parade.
He took his mother’s car and a community member saw him, Covelli said. That person called 911 and the North Chicago Police Department executed a traffic stop and took him into custody.
Here’s what we know about him.
He legally obtained the weapon used, says the mayor
The suspect legally purchased the weapon he used in Monday’s shooting, Covelli said Tuesday, describing it as a “powerful rifle” that fired at high speed.
The weapon, which he described as “similar to an AR-15,” was purchased locally, Covelli said, in the Chicagoland area.
Investigators believe he fired more than 70 rounds during the attack, Covelli said, and there’s no evidence the weapon was modified.
Crimo also legally purchased a second rifle found in his vehicle at the time of his arrest, as well as other firearms recovered from his residence, which Covelli described as handguns.
Firearms evidence was found on the roof of a business near the shooting, said Covelli, who described the gun as a “powerful rifle”.
According to Kim Nerheim, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, authorities were tracking the firearm at the time to find out who bought it and where it came from.
The accelerated track of the firearm was “an important lead of investigation,” Covelli said Tuesday, helping to identify the suspect, along with witness statements and videos from the community.
A total of 39 patients were treated at four NorthShore University HealthSystem hospitals, according to spokesman Jim Anthony, who said nine patients had been admitted to the system as of Tuesday afternoon.
Four are in good condition, four are in stable condition and one, a 69-year-old man, was in critical condition.
Eight of the nine patients suffered gunshot wounds, including the 69-year-old man, Anthony said.
Police in Highwood, Illinois — the suspect’s hometown, just outside Highland Park — had no previous crime-related interactions with Crimo, according to Highwood Police Chief Dave Wentz.
The department’s only contact with Crimo involved a non-criminal incident involving Crimo when he was a minor, Wentz said.
“We literally have nothing on him,” Wentz said. “He may not have been involved in anything.”
He posted violent images online
The suspected gunman posted music to several major streaming platforms under the pseudonym Awake the Rapper, and he apparently created and posted music videos online with ominous lyrics and animated scenes of gun violence.
In a video titled Are you awakeA cartoon animation is seen of a gunman with a stick figure resembling the suspect’s appearance, wearing tactical gear and making an assault with a rifle.
Crimo, seen with multicolored hair and facial tattoos, says: “I just have to do it. It’s my destiny.”
In another video titled toy soldierA similar stick figure resembling the suspect is depicted, face down on the ground in a pool of his own blood, surrounded by police officers with guns drawn.
Police are reviewing the videos posted online, Covelli said at Tuesday’s news conference, noting that police had not been notified before. “We’ll look at them and see what they reveal.”
Several of the suspect’s online posts “reflected a plan and desire to commit a massacre long in advance,” Mayor Rotering said in an interview with NBC.
“And it’s one of those things where you step back and say, ‘What happened? How did someone become so angry and hateful,” she said, “and then take it out on innocent people who were literally just having a family day out?”
YouTube and Spotify have removed content related to the suspect from their platforms, the companies confirmed on Tuesday. They declined to answer questions about whether the content had been flagged or previously reported for violating their respective terms of service. The companies also declined to say when they removed the suspect’s content.
CNN has also reached out to Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal and Pandora with similar questions, but the companies have yet to respond.
His uncle says he didn’t see any warning signs
Highland Park mayor Nancy Rotering knew the suspect years ago, when she was his Cub Scout pack leader, she told CNN, “Many years ago he was just a little boy, a quiet little boy I knew.”
“It breaks my heart. I see this picture and through the tattoos I see the little boy,” she said. “I don’t know what brought him to this point.”
The accused’s uncle, Paul A. Crimo, was “heartbroken” when he learned that his cousin would be responsible for Monday’s shooting, telling CNN, “There were no signs I saw that would make him do this.”
The suspect lived in an apartment behind a house in Highwood, Illinois, owned by his father, said Paul Crimo, who also lives in the house. He last saw his cousin on Sunday night, he said, sitting on a recliner in the house and looking at his computer.
“Everything was as normal,” he said.
As far as Paul Crimo knows, his cousin didn’t have a job, he told CNN, even though he worked at Panera Bread before the COVID-19 pandemic. Paul Crimo said he had never seen the suspect commit any violence or engage in any conduct.
He was also unaware of the political views of his cousin, who described him as a “calm” person.
‘He’s usually alone. He is a lonely, quiet person. He keeps everything to himself.”
The suspect’s father and Paul Crimo’s brother, Robert Crimo Jr., were previously running for mayor, he said. “We are good people here, and this is devastating.”
“I am so heartbroken for all the families who have lost their lives,” said Paul Crimo.