Suspected July 4 shooting confesses, police say he was considering 2nd attack

Michael Tarm, Kathleen Foody and Stephen Groves, The Associated Press

Published Wednesday, July 6, 2022 8:43 AM EDT

Last updated on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 12:34 PM EDT

HIGHLAND PARK, Illinois (AP) — The man accused of killing seven people during an Independence Day parade confessed to police that he had let a hail of bullets from a rooftop in a Chicago suburb and then fled to the area of ​​Madison, Wisconsin, where he was considering shooting an event there, authorities said Wednesday.

The suspect returned to Illinois, where he was later arrested after deciding he was unwilling to commit a shooting in Wisconsin, Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said at a news conference after a hearing where the 21-year-old old man was refused tape.

The shooting in the parade left another American community – this time the affluent Highland Park, home to about 30,000 people near the shore of Lake Michigan – shaken. More than two dozen people were injured, some seriously, and hundreds of protesters, parents and children fled in panic.

Covelli said it didn’t appear the suspect had planned another attack in Wisconsin, but fled there, saw another Independence Day celebration, and “considered seriously” shooting it. The assailant had dumped the gun he was using in Illinois, but Covelli said he had another gun and about 60 bullets on him.

Police later found his phone in Middleton, Wisconsin, about 150 miles from Highland Park.

Hours before his arrest, police warned that the gunman was still at large and that he should be considered armed and dangerous. Several nearby towns have canceled events, including parades and fireworks.

Lake County’s assistant attorney Ben Dillon said in court that the gunman “looked in his sights, aimed” and fired at people across the street. He left the shells of 83 bullets and three ammunition magazines on the roof.

Some of the injured were still in critical condition in hospital, Covelli said, and the death toll could rise.

Lake County State Attorney Eric Rinehart said he planned to charge each individual injured attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm.

“Many, many more charges will follow,” he said at a news conference, estimating those charges would be announced later this month.

The suspect, Robert Crimo III, was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt when he appeared in court on video. He showed little emotion when the prosecutor described the shooting, saying little more than to tell the judge he didn’t have a lawyer.

On Tuesday, Thomas A. Durkin, a prominent Chicago attorney, said he would represent Crimo and that he intended to plead not guilty to all charges. But Durkin told the court on Wednesday that he had a conflict of interest in taking the case. Crimo has been assigned a public defender.

Rinehart also left open the possibility of suing Crimo’s parents, telling reporters that he now “will not answer that question” as the investigation continues.

Steve Greenberg, the attorney for Crimo’s parents, told The Associated Press that the parents are not concerned about anything related to their son’s case.

Questions also arose about how the suspect could have circumvented Illinois’ relatively strict gun laws to legally purchase 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 went to the house after a call from a relative who said Crimo threatened to “kill everyone” there. Covelli said on Tuesday that police seized 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but said there was no sign that he had any weapons at the time, in September 2019.

Police also responded to a reported suicide attempt by the suspect in April 2019, Covelli said.

Crimo legally purchased the rifle used in the Illinois attack over the past year, Covelli said. In total, police said, he bought five firearms, which were recovered by officers at his father’s home.

The revelation about his gun purchases is just the latest example of young men being able to acquire guns and commit massacres in recent months, despite clear warning signs about their mental health and propensity for violence.

The Illinois state police, which issues licenses to gun owners, said Crimo applied for a license in December 2019, when he was 19. His father sponsored his application.

State police have defended how the application was handled, saying there was “inadequate basis at the time to determine an obvious and present danger” and rejecting the application, the state police said in a statement.

Investigators who questioned the suspect and reviewed his social media posts have not identified a motive or found any indication that he had targeted victims based on race, religion or other protected status, Covelli said.

The gunman initially evaded arrest by dressing as a woman and blending in with the fleeing crowd, Covelli said.

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 were quick to contest the liberal suburb’s stance. The legal battle ended on the doorstep of the US Supreme Court in 2015 when judges refused to hear the case and let the suburban restrictions remain in place.

When asked whether Crimo’s case shows flaws in state law, Rinehart said that “the gap in the state’s gun laws would be that we don’t ban assault weapons.”

Under Illinois law, gun purchases may be denied to people convicted of felonies, drug addicts, or those deemed capable of harming themselves or others. That last stipulation might have kept a suicidal Crimo from acquiring a gun.

But under the law, who that provision applies to must be determined by “a court, council, commission or other judicial authority.”

The state has a so-called red flag law designed to stop dangerous people before they kill, but it requires relatives, relatives, roommates or police to ask a judge to order the seizure of weapons.

Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, who posted dozens of videos and songs on social media, some of them ominous and violent.

Foody reported from Chicago; Forests of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Associated Press writers Don Babwin in Chicago, Mike Householder in Highland Park, Bernard Condon and Mike Balsamo in New York, Aamer Madhani in Washington, Jim Mustian in New Orleans, Barbara Ortutay in San Francisco, and researcher Rhonda Shafner also contributed.

Leave a Comment