HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – A man arrested in connection with a deadly attack on a Chicago-area 4th of July celebration that killed six people appears to be an aspiring rapper who posted violent videos depicting disturbing acts of violence .
Authorities spent frantic hours Monday searching for 22-year-old Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III and arrested him shortly before 7 p.m. local time following a short chase about six miles from the shooting. .
Television video showed a silver Honda Fit – which authorities said Crimo was driving – stopped at an intersection with the doors open. Crimo was described by police as a dark-haired, white man considered armed and dangerous following the 10 a.m. shooting that injured at least two dozen people.
“This individual would be responsible for what happened,” Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said in announcing Crimo’s arrest. Covelli said a “significant amount of digital evidence” helped direct investigators to Crimo.
A North Chicago police officer spotted and briefly chased Crimo into nearby Lake Forest and “subject was arrested without incident,” Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said after the arrest. “That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s over, but we’re certainly encouraged to have a person of interest.”
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Authorities say the shooter fired from a rooftop into the crowd and say they recovered a rifle from the scene. They first stopped short of calling Crimo a suspect, instead describing him as a “person of interest”, but said the FBI was offering a reward for the information.
A Chicago-based rapper of the same name who matches the description given by police, including facial tattoos, performs under the name “Awake the Rapper” and has previously posted several videos of violent images, including one man with a gun shooting at people.
Another video he posted showed a cartoon character carrying a rifle later lying face down in a pool of blood, surrounded by police. This same artist appears to have posted a photo of a newspaper clipping on his bedroom wall referencing the death of Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated President John F. Kennedy with a rifle from an elevated location.
A two-story house listed as Crimo’s address was surrounded by law enforcement vehicles on Monday night. Several police cars and at least one armored vehicle were parked outside, and journalists were kept well away from the area. Neighbors said Crimo’s father, Bob Crimo, owned nearby restaurant Bob’s Pantry & Deli.
Violent videos may be linked to man arrested in parade shooting
Violent videos that appear to be Crimo-related were removed from YouTube within hours of the shooting. The account posting the videos was suspended, but YouTube did not return USA TODAY’s request for comment on the channel.
In a video for the Awake the Rapper song “Out of This World”, drawings depict a gunman 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 to the helmet. More images of seemingly anguished characters appear as the voice raps, “I just wanna scream. Sometimes it feels like I’m living a dream.”
In another video posted by the same account, the footage comes in quick cuts, scribbled drawings of faceless characters interspersed with clips of a young man sitting on a bed, wearing a baseball cap. Then the drawn images switch to showing a character holding a semi-automatic rifle. Another faceless character appears to have blood coming out of his chest.
A young man who appears to be the same person with the cap then appears in a new outfit. He’s in a classroom, with blackboards on the walls, a row of lockers, and a television mounted above the door. An American flag hangs from a pole, and the man wears a helmet and tactical vest.
Fast-paced video clips repeat, but classroom scenes change perspective. A plan shows the room from his perspective – but it’s just wide enough for two sets of school-style desks side by side, in three rows, six desks in all. It’s unclear if the setting is a real classroom or an elaborately staged setting.
Next, the helmeted figure is at the lockers. Then he appears without his tactical gear, just in the cap again. Then, in tactical gear again, he kneels on a pile of papers on the floor, clenching his eyes. In another shot, the helmeted figure is seated at one of the desks, at work on a sheet of notebook paper in front of him. A snake tattoo is visible on the back of the neck.
Contributor: Andrea Ball, Josh Susong, USA TODAY