The Illinois man accused of fatally shooting seven people and injuring dozens more during a Fourth of July parade threatened to “kill everyone” in his immediate family nearly three years ago, authorities said.
Alleged mass shooter Robert “Bobby” Crimo, 21, made the chilling vow in September 2019, Dep. Chief Christopher Covelli, a spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
A relative called police at the time and told officers Crimo had “a collection of knives,” Covelli said. Police seized 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from Crimo’s home, where he lived with his parents and siblings. There was insufficient probable cause to arrest Crimo for the threat, and no complaint was filed, according to Covelli, who said the Highland Park Police Department “immediately notified the Illinois state police of the incident.”
“The threat was aimed at family in the house,” Covelli said.
He noted that Crimo had previously come to the attention of authorities in April 2019, when an unnamed person “made contact” [the] Highland Park Police Department a week after he learned that Mr Crimo was trying to kill himself.”
“The case was being handled by mental health professionals at the time,” he explained. “There were no law enforcement actions to take. It was a mental health issue and was handled by those professionals.”
Crimo dressed as a woman to disguise himself during Monday’s frenzy, police said. He “did this to hide his facial tattoos, his identity, and help him escape with… other people fleeing the chaos,” Covelli said.
Crimo has been charged with seven first-degree murders, with “dozens more” indicted, Lake County State attorney Eric Rinehart announced Tuesday evening.
“We will stand by the survivors of this terrible crime for as long as it takes,” Rinehart said. “In court, we will demand the maximum sentence against this perpetrator. Not because we seek revenge, but because justice and the healing process demand it.”
The gun that came with the Highland Park Fourth of July Parade was legally purchased in Illinois by Crimo, who had planned the attack “several weeks,” according to Covelli. After the massacre, he blended into the crowd and ran to his mother’s house, he added. Police believe Crimo fired more than 70 shots at innocent bystanders to enjoy the day, Covelli said.
“My boyfriend gave me this little boy and said he was under this dad who got shot in the leg,” he said. a parade goer told The Daily Beast† “They were trying to stop the bleeding, so I took the boy down to the garage.”
Crimo’s disguise reportedly included a dress and a long wig, which can be seen in a photo obtained by Chicago news channel WGN Investigates.
On Tuesday mornings, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering used an interview on NBC’s Today to reflect on the horrific massacre in her quiet Chicago suburb. Highland Park has had a ban on assault weapons since 2013† Illinois has no statewide ban on assault weapons, but does require mandatory background checksbans domestic violence and stalkers from buying weapons, and bans people from carrying weapons in schools, bars and demonstrations. According to the Everytown gun safety nonprofitIllinois gun laws are the sixth strictest in the US, after Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii and California. a 37 percent lower death rate from weapons than the national average.
“I don’t know where the weapon came from, but I do know it was legally obtained,” Rotering said. “I think at some point this country needs to have a conversation about these weekly events where dozens of people have been killed with legally acquired weapons. If that’s what our laws stand for, we need to rethink the laws.”
Authorities have not yet released the exact brand of the weapon or where and when it was purchased, but Covelli described it as “similar to an AR-15”. It was left on the roof that the gunman used as a sniper’s nest, firing indiscriminately at crowds of families enjoying the parade. Highland Park Police did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for more information about the weapon’s purchase on Tuesday morning.
Crimo owned a total of five firearms, all of which had been legally purchased, Covelli said, noting that the cache contained at least two rifles, “some handguns and possibly a shotgun.” According to Covelli, the police seized all weapons from Crimo’s father’s house on Monday.
On Tuesday afternoon, Master Sgt. Delilah Garcia of the Illinois State Police said all gun owners in the state are required to apply for a FOID card, or a Firearm Owner’s Identification card. On how Crimo was able to legally obtain a firearm after two troubling incidents, Garcia explained that when Highland Park Police notified the state police of the event, there was no FOID card “or anything to withdraw or review.” .”
When asked if there was some mechanism to prevent someone like Crimo from getting a FOID card later, Garcia replied, “Well, at the time actually — he didn’t have a pending application. So there was nothing to assess when we got that notification. We didn’t know that something else would happen a few months later.”
If the police had been aware of Crimo’s violent social media posts, they would have “absolutely” launched an investigation, according to Garcia.
“Law enforcement officers will do everything they can to make sure the community stays safe, but if we don’t know about it, it’s hard for us to investigate,” she said.
Tom Durkin, who has been hired to represent Crimo, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that he spoke to his client briefly for “about an hour” and that he “seemed fine”.
He noted that he tried to see Crimo Monday night after he was detained but “wasn’t allowed to see him,” Durkin said their phone call was mainly focused on an expected hearing on Wednesday.
Steven Greenberg, who represents Crimo’s parents, told The Daily Beast that his clients are “absolutely shocked” at the allegations against their son. The attorney, who previously represented R. Kelly in Chicago, added that Crimo’s parents are seeking answers to what happened Monday — and are dealing with their own loss because they knew “some of the victims’ families” themselves.
“That’s the real tragedy for them,” Greenberg said. “Some of the victims’ families have contacted the parents because they share a sad, common bond.”
Greenberg issued a statement from Crimo’s parents, noting that “we are all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and this is a terrible tragedy for many families, the victims, the parade goers, the community and ours. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to everyone.”
NBC 5 reported that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms used DNA collected from a rifle found at the scene of the attack to identify Crimo. In addition to the ATF, Covelli said the Highland Park PD, the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, the Illinois State Police and the FBI also assisted in the investigation.
Local police arrested Crimo Monday evening after a short chase after an officer spotted his silver Honda Fit.
“There is no indication that anyone else was involved in this attack,” Covelli said on Tuesday. “By all indications, it appears that Crimo acted alone.”
Disturbing videos on the social media channels of locals in Illinois – where Crimo used the alias Awake the Rapper – are full of violent imagery and shooting fantasies, including an animation of a gunman being killed by police.
As The Daily Beast reportedCrimo posted a video to his personal blog last year showing Central Avenue in Highland Park – the main artery of yesterday’s parade route.
Another referred to the assassin of John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald. Crimo also reportedly posted a video on an online bulletin board of a person being beheaded.
Crimo is a video gamer and pro wrestling fan, his social media presence suggests. His precise political affiliations are still somewhat unclear — he’s shared photos of himself holding a Trump flag at one of the ex-president’s rallies, but he’s also happily posted messages featuring President Joe Biden.
Much of Crimo’s social media presence includes a symbol that roughly resembles one used by Suomen Sisu, a far-right Finnish organization that “tries to protect Finnish culture [and] traditions† (Other Finns have described the group as: “Nazi-spirited.”) Crimo, however, does not mention Suomen Sisu by name in his posts. He also served as the manager of a Discord channel called “SS” which has since been removed.
On Tuesday, Covelli said investigators are “watching” Crimo’s online activities to “see what they reveal.”
Mark Heymann, 22, told The Daily Beast that he grew up with Crimo — and they were in Cub Scouts in grade school together — but “couldn’t say he knew him too well.”
“He was a year younger than me. I knew who he was and I knew his name,” Heymann said, adding that even though Crimo wasn’t his friend, he knew “something wasn’t right, something wasn’t right about it’.
“I don’t remember him being in any specific group of friends in high school, but he was definitely a loner,” he added.
According to Covelli, detectives have spoken with “numerous witnesses” in the past 24 hours and have already analyzed “numerous video clips, both from video recordings from cell phones and from fixed cameras in the area.
But authorities have apparently not yet found a motive, with Covelli telling reporters that police “have no evidence at this time that it was racially motivated, motivated by religion.”
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