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.
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” 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 Crimo 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.
After the shooting, Crimo 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.
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 said he hadn’t noticed any signs that his nephew might commit violence.
“There was no indication at all,” Paul Crimo told CBS Chicago. “There was no indication that I’ve seen at all that would lead up to this.”
He said 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.
Bobby 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. He said Crimo’s history with police is limited.
“There have been some law enforcement contacts. Nothing of a violent nature,” Covelli said.
Covelli elaborated on those past 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.
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.”