The 21-year-old suspect in the deadly attack on an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago has been charged with seven counts of murder in a shooting rampage that left seven people dead and more than 30 injured.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said that if convicted, Robert Crimo III would face a mandatory life sentence without parole. Investigators, who have questioned the suspect and reviewed his social media posts, have not determined a motive for the attack, Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli told a news conference.
Covelli said Crimo legally bought five weapons, including two high-powered rifles, one of which was found at the scene of the shooting and a second in his car, Covelli said.
At a Tuesday evening news conference, police revealed that they had been called to Crimo’s home twice in September 2019 after he made violent and suicidal threats. Police confiscated several knives, a dagger and a sword but said there was no sign of any guns.
Crimo applied for a gun license in December 2019, when he was 19, Illinois state police said. His father sponsored his application.
At the time, “there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger” and deny the application, the state police said in a statement.
Police said the shooter used an AR-15-style assault weapon and fired more than 70 rounds during the attack in the affluent community of Highland Park during a Fourth of July celebration. He then fled the scene by dressing as a woman to blend in with people frantically trying to escape the carnage, Covelli said Tuesday.
David Shapiro, 47, told The Associated Press the spray of 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.
Police arrested Crimo hours later when a policeman spotted him driving in his car just outside Highland Park, a community of 30,000 people on the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Police allege he opened fire on parents and their children from the rooftop of a building adjoining the parade route as they watched marching bands and local dignitaries celebrate the country’s 1776 founding.
The gunfire was initially mistaken for fireworks celebrating the national holiday. Once the crowd realized it was gunfire, panicked paradegoers fled or scrambled into stores to escape the attack.
FBI agents and local police searched for more evidence Tuesday, sifting through trash cans along the parade route and looking under picnic blankets abandoned by families in their haste to escape. A day after the shooting, baby strollers, lawn chairs and other items left behind by panicked paradegoers remained inside a wide police perimeter.
Police said they have not found any indication that the shooter targeted anyone by race, religion or other protected status.
Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, is an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting videos and songs, some ominous and violent, on social media sites.
The Highland Park attack was the latest mass shooting in the United States in recent weeks, with earlier assaults on people occurring at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York; an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a medical office in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
U.S. President Joe Biden issued a statement saying he and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, were “shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day.”
The Highland Park shooting occurred more than a week after Biden signed the first major federal gun violence legislation passed by Congress in decades, although it would not have blocked the sale of the assault weapon used in Monday’s attack.
The bipartisan compromise bill requires new background checks of gun buyers under 21 and provides more money to beef up security at schools and for mental health care for those considered at risk of harming themselves or others.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.