HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — Police say he legally purchased a high-powered rifle, dressed up in women’s clothing, and climbed onto a rooftop. Then he allegedly opened fire during a July 4 parade in an affluent Chicago suburb, killing seven people and injuring dozens.
But the motivation behind the latest mass shooting in the United States – an attack that authorities say was “well orchestrated and carefully planned” for weeks – remains a mystery to investigators and the shattered community.
Authorities announced Tuesday night that they have charged 21-year-old Robert “Bobby” Crimo III with seven counts of first-degree murder. Dozens of other lesser charges are expected. The police did not provide any explanation for the attack.
“We have not developed a motive on his part,” Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said, adding there were no apparent signs the attack was racially motivated. or religion. “By all indications, it appears that Crimo was acting alone.”
Investigators say that immediately after shooting into the crowd, Crimo changed into women’s clothing and left a gun on a rooftop, potentially to better blend in and escape.
Police said it appeared Crimo then drove to neighboring Wisconsin after the shooting, but returned and was apprehended nearby ‘without incident’ following a short car chase in about 8 km from the scene of the shooting.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric F. Rinehart said Tuesday night that the seven counts of first-degree murder are just the first of many charges Crimo will face, an announcement warmly applauded by community members.
Rinehart called the Crimo attack a “well orchestrated and carefully planned crime”, but declined to elaborate. He said he would ask a judge on Wednesday morning to keep Crimo in jail without the possibility of bail.
“We anticipate dozens more charges centered on each of the victims – psychological victims, physical victims,” Rinehart said. “These seven counts of first degree murder will carry a mandatory life sentence if convicted, without the possibility of parole.”
Property records, school information, and family friends indicate that Crimo grew up in the Highland Park area, attended Highland Park High School as a freshman for one year in 2015-2015, and attended a local non-denominational Christian church for at least four years.
LATEST UPDATES:Gunman fired 70 rounds in assault planned for weeks, police say
On Tuesday, authorities also revealed that Crimo had been reported to police twice in 2019, first in April for a suicide attempt and then in September when a family member reported to police that Crimo “ was going to kill everyone” and had a collection of knives.
Police confiscated knives, a dagger and a sword from his home, Covelli said of the September 2019 incident.
Illinois State Police Sgt. Delila Garcia said the individual at the time did not have a gun owner identification card, which identifies a person as eligible to own/acquire firearms, to be revoked or reviewed.
Last April, Crimo walked into a nearby synagogue, said Rabbi Yosef Schanowitz, co-director of the North Suburban Lubavitch Chabad – Central Avenue Synagogue.
Schanowitz told USA TODAY on Tuesday that authorities asked him not to speak on specifics, but confirmed that Crimo, who he said had face tattoos and was not a member of the congregation, had was asked to leave shortly after entering during the Passover services. Like many synagogues, the Central Avenue Synagogue is guarded by armed security guards during services, Schanowitz said.
Charlotte Bank, who attended a vigil for the victims on Tuesday afternoon, said she knew Crimo from Thursday evening small group gatherings and Sunday services at Christ Church Highland Park, a non-denominational church.
Bank said Crimo was quiet and usually only offered cursory commentary when he spoke. She didn’t know about his personal life, although she had known him through the church for about four years.
She said she was attending the vigil because she wanted to ‘reconcile her own feelings’ about the man she knew from the church group and the gunman she saw on the news.
Crimo’s father, Robert Crimo Jr., 58, owned nearby restaurant Bob’s Pantry & Deli, records show, and Crimo Jr. ran for mayor of Highland Park in 2019. The Lake County Election Records , Illinois, show he lost to the current mayor. , which won 72% of the vote.
WHERE IS HIGHLAND PARK? What we know about suburban Chicago’s mourning after a parade shooting.
Police recover two rifles belonging to Crimo
The rifle recovered from the shooting scene was “similar to an AR-15” using high-velocity rounds and did not appear to have been modified, Covelli said.
Crimo had purchased two rifles legally from different locations and in his name in the Chicagoland area, Covelli said. One of them was found at the scene and a second was in his car. Other legally purchased firearms were recovered from his home.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives quickly tracked down the rifle left at the scene to determine its story, said Kimberly Nerheim, the agency’s Chicago spokeswoman.
Crimo had been planning the attack for several weeks before firing more than 70 rounds into the crowd and then leaving the rifle behind. said Covelli. He and other investigators declined to elaborate on why they believe the attack was long planned or why the gun was left behind.
“There are a number of theories on the table as to why he left his gun there,” Covelli said. “It’s very clear to investigators that he tried to blend in with the rest of the victims who were fleeing the scene. Carrying a gun, I imagine, wouldn’t allow anyone to blend in very well. The gun did him leads directly.”
Crimo’s uncle, Paul Crimo, told Fox 32 he had just seen his nephew the day before at the house he shared with his brother. The suspect lived in a separate apartment, and Paul Crimo said he didn’t know where he got a gun.
Suspect is a rapper with a large online footprint
The suspect is a rapper and artist who had no job but previously worked at Panera Bread, Paul Crimo said. “He’s a very quiet kid. He keeps everything to himself,” Paul Crimo said, and he was often in front of his computer. “I’m deeply sorry,” he told USA TODAY could not contact Paul Crimo immediately for comment.
Crimo performed under the name “Awake the Rapper” and posted several videos of violent images on YouTube and other platforms, including a man with a gun shooting people. Another video he posted showed a cartoon character carrying a gun and face down in a pool of blood, surrounded by police.
Crimo also posted a photo of a newspaper clipping on his bedroom wall referring to the death of Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated President John F. Kennedy with a rifle from an elevated location in November 1963. Authorities say the Highland Park shooter shot during the 4th of July festivities. from the roof of a building.
Crimo’s large online footprint — mostly videos — can provide insight into its motivation, said Kesa White, program research associate at the American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab. .
White studies, in part, how people become radicalized online. She said his videos suggest he wanted to be “seen” by others, the same way his face tattoos signal his desire to be noticed and stand out.
“In his posts on all social media platforms, he definitely showed his willingness to commit more violence than we normally see because he was very explicit about it,” White told USA TODAY. “Many shooters have online profiles but aren’t as outspoken or show up at political events as we see with this shooter.”
White is not associated with the investigation.
Scott Bonn, author and criminology expert, said Crimo’s actions likely came after months or years of anger and frustration. He said Crimo, like many other mass shooters, was likely driven by a toxic cocktail of access to guns, fierce individualism, revenge and a culture of vigilante justice celebrated in popular entertainment. . Bonn is a blogger for Psychology Today and author of the book Why We Love Serial Killers.
“Mass public shootings are committed by angry and vengeful individuals who seek revenge against a person, group, or institution for perceived harm or injustice to them. They don’t break “, said Bonn on Tuesday. “Their anger simmers until it reaches a boiling point, then they devise a plan to fight back and leave their mark on society.”
After:Robert Crimo arrested as ‘person of interest’ in Highland Park shooting
Bennett Brizes posted on Twitter that he made music with Crimo between 2015 and 2018 and suggested that he was not a political person, at least at the time. He spoke to The Washington Post and said the two broke up and stopped talking around 2019, and when they spoke to each other early last year, Crimo seemed “depressed”.
USA TODAY could not reach Brizes via email and social media.
Violent Crimo-related videos removed from YouTube after shooting
Violent videos that appear to be Crimo-related were removed from YouTube within hours of the shooting. The account displaying the videos has been suspended. YouTube did not immediately return USA TODAY’s request for comment.
In a video for the song “Out of This World” by Awake the Rapper, drawings show an armed man wearing a tactical vest and carrying a semi-automatic rifle, bodies on the ground around him. As he takes aim, a faceless figure raises his hands in surrender. The shooter wears a helmet with what appears to be a Go-Pro style camera attached. More images of seemingly anguished characters appear as the voice raps, “I just wanna scream. Sometimes I feel like I’m living a dream.
Asked at a press conference by a reporter about possible struggles during Crimo’s youth, Covelli said: “We’re going to reach out to everyone we can…be it family members, teachers , the friends.”
Contributors: Grace Hauck, USA TODAY, Sophie Carson, USA TODAY Network
Chris Kenning is a national journalist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @chris_kenning.