By Michael Tarm, Kathleen Foody and Stephen Groves,
The Associated Press
The man accused of killing seven people when he unleashed a hail of bullets during an Independence Day parade from a rooftop was due to appear in court on July 6 as authorities faced questions about how he was allowed to purchase multiple guns, despite threats of violence.
Robert E. Crimo III was charged with seven counts of murder on July 5 in the shooting that sent hundreds of walkers, parents and children fleeing in fear and sparked a manhunt several hours in and around Highland Park, an affluent suburb of Chicago. the shores of Lake Michigan. Investigators have not yet identified a motive.
Crimo’s attorney said he intends to plead not guilty to all charges. Prosecutors have promised to search for dozens more.
A rifle ‘similar to an AR-15’ was used to spray more than 70 rounds from the top of a commercial building into the parade crowd, a Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesperson said. .
A seventh victim died on July 5. More than three dozen other people were injured in the attack, which task force spokesman Christopher Covelli said the suspect had been planning for several weeks.
The assault happened less than three years after police attended Crimo’s home following a call from a family member who said he was threatening to ‘kill everyone’ the low. Covelli said police confiscated 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but said there was no sign he had any firearms at the time, in September 2019.
In April 2019, police also responded to a reported suicide attempt by the suspect, Covelli said.
Crimo legally purchased the rifle used in the attack in Illinois over the past year, Covelli said. In all, according to police, he purchased five firearms, which were recovered by officers from his father’s home.
The revelation about his arms purchases is just the latest example of young men who have been able to obtain weapons and carry out massacres in recent months despite glaring warning signs about their mental health and propensity for violence.
Illinois State Police, which issues gun owner licenses, said Crimo, 19, applied for a license in December 2019. Around the same time, his father had sponsored his request.
At the time, “there was not a sufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger” and dismiss the claim, state police said in a statement.
Investigators who interviewed the suspect and reviewed his social media posts did not determine a motive or find any indication that he was targeting victims by race, religion or other protected status, Covelli said.
During the 4th of July parade, the shots were initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of revelers fled in terror. A day later, strollers, lawn chairs and other items left behind by panicked onlookers remained inside a large police perimeter. Outside the police strip, some residents came to collect blankets and chairs they had abandoned.
David Shapiro, 47, said the gunfire quickly turned the parade into “chaos”.
“People didn’t know right away where the shots were coming from, whether the shooter was in front of you or behind you chasing you,” he said July 5 as he retrieved a stroller and chairs of garden.
The shooting occurred at a location on the parade route where many residents had staked out vantage points earlier in the day.
Among them were Nicolas Toledo, who was visiting family in Illinois from Mexico, and Jacki Sundheim, a longtime devotee and staff member of nearby North Shore Congregation Israel.
Nine people, ages 14 to 70, remained hospitalized on July 5, hospital officials said.
The shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time the bloodshed came as the nation tried to celebrate its founding and the ties that still hold it together.
The shooter initially evaded capture by dressing as a woman and blending into the fleeing crowd, Covelli said.
A police officer arrested Crimo, 21, north of the scene of the shooting several hours after police released his photo and warned he was likely armed and dangerous, Highland Park Police Chief Lou said. jogmen.
In 2013, Highland Park officials approved a ban on semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. A local doctor and the Illinois State Rifle Association quickly challenged the liberal suburban position. The legal battle ended at the gates of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 when the justices refused to hear the case and let suburban restrictions remain in place.
Under Illinois law, the purchase of firearms can be denied to those convicted of crimes, drug addicts, or those deemed capable of harming themselves or others. This last provision could have prevented a suicidal Crimo from obtaining a weapon.
But under the law, to whom this provision applies must be decided by “a court, board, commission or other lawful authority”.
The state has a so-called red flag law designed to stop dangerous people before they kill, but it requires family members, relatives, roommates or police to ask a judge to order seizure. firearms.
Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name “Awake the Rapper”, posting dozens of videos and songs, some disturbing and violent, on social media.
Federal agents were reviewing Crimo’s online profiles, and a preliminary review of his internet history indicated he had researched mass murders and uploaded several photos depicting violent acts, including a beheading, said a law enforcement official.
The official could not publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Shapiro, the Highland Park resident who fled the parade with his family, said his 4-year-old son woke up screaming later that night.
“He’s too young to understand what happened,” Shapiro said. “But he knows something bad happened.”
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