Updated July 6, 2022 at 8:05 p.m. EDT|Published July 6, 2022 at 7:02 a.m. EDT
HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — The man accused of opening fire on a crowd watching a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park is being held in jail without bond, as authorities said Wednesday that he confessed to the shooting and considered carrying out a second massacre 100 miles away.
The suspect, Robert E. Crimo III, drove to Madison, Wis., after the attack and “seriously contemplated” shooting more people at a celebration there, but he returned to Illinois and was arrested, said Christopher Covelli, a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force. That revelation came as questions mounted about how Crimo was able to acquire multiple firearms even after previous contacts with police.
The director of the Illinois State Police, the agency responsible for issuing gun permits, said Wednesday that a 2019 clear-and-present-danger report had “insufficient” evidence to deem him dangerous and prevent him from purchasing weapons in the future. At the time, Crimo told Highland Park police that he did not feel like harming himself or others.
Reports of the suspect’s past encounters with police raised questions about how he purchased five firearms. In one of two visits in 2019, officers confiscated knives and a sword from Crimo’s residence after a family member reported that he threatened to “kill everyone.”
Crimo’s father sponsored his application for a firearm owner’s identification card in 2019, months after the family member’s reported threat, Illinois State Police said.
Ryan Lerman, 19, was nervous while starting his shift as a pizza delivery driver on Monday night. The shooter was still on the loose, and no one knew where. Some of Lerman’s co-workers had called in, too frightened to come to work.
As he drove through the northwest suburbs of Chicago, he kept an eye out for a silver Honda Fit, the car authorities said the alleged gunman was driving. Then, while sitting inside his Hyundai at an intersection in Lake Forest, Ill., he saw one that fit the description. He was, he said, “just horrified.” What if the shooting started again?
Before he could call in what he saw, a swarm of patrol cars pulled up, lights flashing. Lerman backed up, then pulled out his phone and started recording as officers jumped out of their cars. They stood back, guns drawn, and gave the driver orders over a loudspeaker, the footage shows.
“Surprisingly, he just, like, instantly complied,” Lerman recalled. “I think he was just, ‘This is it.’”
He kept recording as driver, seemingly emotionless, laid on the pavement and a swarm of officers closed in. Then authorities directed Lerman and other motorists away from the scene as they prepared to close down the road. He snapped pictures of the line of patrol cars and an armored vehicle.
It was scary, he said, and surreal. Lerman lives in Buffalo Grove, Ill., a village 10 miles from Highland Park, and he knows people who had to run from the deadly gunfire Monday at that city’s parade.
Two days later, he was still processing.“It doesn’t feel real at all,” Lerman said. “It definitely didn’t hit me until yesterday when I saw that the 2-year-old boy lost both of his parents. That just really hit me, and I was like, ‘This is real.’ That kid is going to grow up to be an orphan because of [expletive] gun violence.”
He apologized for swearing. He was angry at another outburst of gun violence in the United States, and at the details he had heard about the injuries people had suffered in the shooting. He called the gun used in the shooting a “war machine” and said the government needs to do more.
“It’s just like, how can you let this happen 309 times out of this year, out of 172 days?” Lerman said.
State police say agency had ‘insufficient’ information to establish suspect as dangerous in 2019
During a Wednesday news briefing, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said the agency determined the September 2019 clear-and-present-danger report on Robert E. Crimo III had “insufficient” information to establish him as a danger. A female relative whose name was redacted from the report initiated the complaint, but Crimo and his mother disputed to police that he felt like harming himself or others while Crimo’s father claimed ownership of the knives when they were discovered by police.
Kelly said under protocols that existed in 2019, “that particular record would not have been retained at that time.” The September 2019 report was ultimately not a factor when Crimo successfully applied for a firearm-owner ID card three months later, with sponsorship from his father.
Kelly avoided criticizing Crimo’s parents directly, but stressed that the state screening laws only work when friends and family of an individual who might be a danger speak up and report their concerns to authorities.
“I can’t speak to what was going through the mind of this particular person when they made that decision ... I can only speak from the perspective of a citizen and a father that we all have a duty and an obligation and we all have to be mindful of the safety of others and sometimes that requires difficult things as a parent,” he said.
He acknowledged that despite the state’s comprehensive and “fairly rigorous” firearm laws, the agency is “continuously assessing if there are weaknesses, if there are gaps in what we can’t do.”
Police say parade suspect said he did not intend to harm himself or others in 2019
Authorities on Wednesday released a redacted copy of a Highland Park police report describing a 2019 run-in officers had with the parade suspect.
According to the report, officers responded to a home at around 10 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2019, in response to a call warning that Robert E. Crimo III threatened “to kill everyone” in the household. The name of the person who made the call and the home’s address are both redacted in the report, which was released by the Illinois State Police.
An unnamed person was described by police as “afraid to go home due to the nature of this threat,” the report stated, owing to “a collection of knives in his bedroom.”
An officer wrote that they contacted the parade suspect and his mother, and that then-18-year-old Crimo “admitted to being depressed” three days earlier “and having a history of drug use.” The future parade suspect said he did not feel like harming himself or others, police wrote.
His father, police wrote, said the knives were his and stored in his son’s closet “for safekeeping.” They included 16 knives in a tin lunch box, a 24-inch “Samurai type blade” and a foot-long dagger, police wrote. A few hours later, they said, the parade suspect’s father retrieved the items.
That same day, the officer submitted a clear-and-present-danger report about the parade suspect to the Illinois State Police, briefly describing what happened during the encounter at the home.
The Illinois State Police said Wednesday in a statement that a reviewing officer “concluded there was insufficient information for a Clear and Present Danger determination.”
Wisconsin officials said they learned of Highland shooting suspect’s intentions Wednesday
Madison, Wis., Police Chief Shon Barnes said that the FBI contacted them about 5 p.m. Monday afternoon and asked to have a SWAT team ready, but it was not until a Wednesday morning news conference that Madison police officials learned that the Highland Park suspect, Robert Crimo III, had traveled to Madison and allegedly contemplated carrying out a second attack there.
“We will never know what stopped him, but thankfully no innocent lives were taken,” Barnes said Wednesday.
Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said at a news conference that the fact that Crimo allegedly considered unleashing violence in Madison was “deeply disturbing.”
“Thank goodness he didn’t do anything here in Madison.” Rhodes-Conway said. “But it could’ve happened. And, frankly, we know that something like this can happen in any community in America.”
Rhodes-Conway underscored the urgent need for Congress to pass “common-sense gun-safety laws” and said assault weapons should be banned in the country.
“All of us are at risk when weapons of war are on our streets,” she said, adding that the United States is “the only developed country to allow this mayhem to be part of our daily lives.
Fundraiser for boy who lost parents in shooting passes $2.5 million
A GoFundMe drive supporting the toddler who lost both parents in the Highland Park shooting had raised more than $2.5 million as of Wednesday afternoon.
Two-year-old Aiden McCarthy’s parents, Irina and Kevin McCarthy, were killed Monday during the shooting at a July Fourth parade.
Irina Colon, one of the women who helped rescue Aiden, set up the GoFundMe account, writing that she established the fundraiser to support the boy and his caregivers.
“At two years old, Aiden is left in the unthinkable position; to grow up without his parents,” Colon’s GoFundMe post said. “Aiden will be cared for by his loving family and he will have a long road ahead to heal, find stability, and ultimately navigate life as an orphan.”
Gun laws vs. mental health support: ‘We can’t screen our way out of this,’ expert says
As the familiar debate over mental health support and gun restrictions plays out in the wake of another deadly shooting, one expert who studies mass shooting events said that, although both are important, only firearm regulations have proved to have a significant effect of curbing future tragedies.
Lori Ann Post, who researches mass shootings as director of Northwestern University’s Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics, said assault weapon and high-capacity magazine bans are just two of the gun-control measures that have worked in countries around the world, with Australia’s 1996 gun-control and buyback law being among the most cited examples.
“Saying it’s just mental health won’t work for mitigation. We can’t screen our way out of it,” Post said. Addressing the mental health crisis in the United States has its place, she said, but it’s a “distraction” in the context of finding solutions for mass shootings by making it easy for policymakers to take the focus off measures that work, like a federal assault weapons ban.
The emphasis on mental health issues that a shooter may suffer also unfairly stigmatizes those with mental illness as violent as a result of their condition, she said, warning against conflating mental health issues such as anxiety and depression with personality disorders.
She criticized the federal gun regulations recently passed in Congress for being inadequate in situations like Highland Park, Ill.
“The legislation we just passed won’t work,” she said, using suspect Robert E. Crimo III’s behavior as an example.
“Wearing all black is not illegal. Posing with assault weapons is not illegal. Buying a gun at 21 is not breaking the law. None of his behavior was illegal, even if it was disturbing,” she said.
On Tuesday, officials revealed that Highland Park police had twice been in contact with Crimo, once for an April 2019 suicide attempt that was referred to mental health professionals, and a September 2019 incident in which police responded to a call after Crimo’s family said he threatened to “kill everyone.”
Police confiscated several knives in his possession and reported the incident to Illinois State Police. ISP spokesperson Delila Garcia said the agency’s protocol was to check to see whether Crimo had an active firearm license or a pending application; he had neither at the time. He went on to successfully apply for what is known as a FOID card and legally buy multiple guns.
“We have to stop thinking of mass shootings as an event,” Post said. “We have to start thinking of it as a pattern of behavior.”
Billionaire Bill Ackman gives $18,000 to fundraiser for orphaned toddler
Billionaire investor Bill Ackman donated $18,000 to the online fundraiser supporting the 2-year-old boy who was orphaned when both of his parents were killed in Monday’s mass shooting in Highland Park, Ill.
Kevin and Irina McCarthy, ages 37 and 35, were among the victims of the massacre at the Fourth of July parade that killed seven and injured more than 30 people. Neighbors found 2-year-old Aiden McCarthy crying and confused after an assailant started shooting from the roof of a local business. One of the women who helpedrescue Aiden, Irina Colon, said in a GoFundMe appeal on Tuesday that she and others had sheltered the little boy and worked to locate his grandparents, who will now be caring for him.
The fundraiser for Aiden, which has raised more than $2.3 million from about 43,000 donations as of Wednesday afternoon, was given a boost when Ackman, the founder of Pershing Square Capital Management, gave $18,000. The donation was first reported on by Bloomberg News.
A spokesperson for Ackman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. A representative confirmed to Bloomberg News that Ackman made the donation toward Aiden’s fundraiser but declined to comment.
It isn’t the first time Ackman has made news after a shooting. He previously defended Kyle Rittenhouse and said the teen acted in self-defense when he shot and killed two men and injured another during demonstrations against police violence in Kenosha, Wis., in August 2020. Rittenhouse was acquitted of homicide, attempted homicide and other charges.
Ackman has tweeted in recent days that the upward trend of mass shootings in the United States “is not our friend.” He also retweeted a photo of Aiden after it was confirmed the boy’s parents had been killed.
There are no words. Both parents of this lost toddler from the #Highland Park mass shooting - Irina Levberg and Kevin McCarthy - were amongst the murdered.
At Wednesday’s bond hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon said Robert E. Crimo III had voluntarily confessed to Monday’s mass shooting in Highland Park, Ill.
Officers and agents used surveillance video from nearby businesses as well as videos and photos provided by parade attendees, and determined that Crimo walked to an alley and used an outside fire escape to gain access to the roof, Dillon said.
After his capture, Crimo told police that he used the stairway to gain access to the rooftop, that he looked down his sight, “aimed and opened fire at people across the street,” Dillon recounted to Lake County Judge Theodore S. Potkonjak.
Dillon said Crimo told officers that he fired the full 30 rounds, popped in another magazine, then a third magazine and continued to fire.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, surveillance video showed the gunman running west to an alley and to Green Bay Road, carrying a black bag, Dillon said. As he ran, an object, wrapped in cloth, fell out of the bag and he kept running.
Dillon said the object was recovered — a Smith and Wesson semiautomatic rifle that had a round in the chamber but no magazine inserted. The gun’s serial number was traced, and it was determined that Crimo got the gun at a local gun store in 2020, the prosecutor said.
Dillon said Crimo identified himself and the weapon shown on still images from the surveillance video.
Police who were familiar with Crimo identified him in surveillance video. He was observed wearing women’s clothing.
Crimo told police that he “dressed up like a girl, and covered his tattoos with makeup because people recognized him,” Dillon told Potkonjak.
Potkonjak ruled that Crimo would be held in jail without bond because he poses a threat to the community. His next court appearance will be July 28.
Crimo was assigned a public defender after Thomas Durkin, an attorney hired by Crimo’s family, recused himself due to a personal conflict of interest.
Federal assault weapons ban must be renewed, state’s attorney says
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart (D) said the United States should renew the federal assault weapons ban if it wants to curb deadly incidents such as the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Ill.
Police say the shooting suspect, Robert E. Crimo III, used an AR-15-type rifle to carry out the attack that killed seven people Monday and injured dozens more.
“As I said yesterday, the state of Illinois and the United States should ban these types of assault weapons,” Rinehart said during a Wednesday news conference. He stressed that there was bipartisan support for the federal assault weapons ban that took effect in 1994 and expired in 2004 when attempts to renew it failed. “Everything shows that these types of horrifying, devastating incidents went down during that time.”
The Highland Park attack has exposed what mass shooting experts say is the inadequacy of patchwork state and federal laws. Though Highland Park has an assault weapons ban, Crimo, of neighboring Highwood, Ill., was able to legally purchase guns in the surrounding area. Similarly, Illinois is known for having strict gun laws, but it is surrounded by neighboring states with far laxer ones.
Questions have swirled around Illinois’s “red flag” law and firearm licensing process after officials revealed Tuesday that Crimo had legally obtained weapons less than a year after police had repeated contact with him, including one incident in which he allegedly threatened to kill his family.
Illinois is among the states with a “red flag” law, a type of restraining order meant to prevent individuals from obtaining a weapon if a court deems them a threat to themselves or others or removes weapons the individual already has access to.
Crimo never had a firearm restraining order taken out against him, Rinehart said, and there were no firearms to remove from the home when police responded in 2019. Officials previously said none of Crimo’s family signed a complaint, so no arrest was made, though the Highland Park Police removed multiple knives from the home during the September 2019 incident and reported it to the Illinois State Police.
Illinois State Police in a statement said Crimo passed four background checks when purchasing firearms between June 2020 and September 2021.
Suspect considered second shooting in Wisconsin, police say
Robert E. Crimo III had finished his attack in Highland Park, Ill., leaving pools of blood and terrified paradegoers in his wake, when police say he had an idea: Maybe he could shoot more people.
As he drove around Madison, Wis., Crimo, who authorities say confessed to police about the Highland Park shootings, saw a celebration happening there and “seriously contemplated” using a Kel-Tec rifle and approximately 60 rounds that were in his car to commit another shooting, said Christopher Covelli, a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, at a news conference Wednesday.
Covelli said questions remained about why Crimo did not go through with the idea, but he added that there were indications that he had not done enough planning.
Crimo abandoned his phone in Middleton, Wis., about six miles northwest of Madison, Covelli said. The FBI recovered the device.
Suspect shows no reaction as names of dead are read off in court
Robert E. Crimo III looked nervous, sometime squinting, blinking and pursing his lips, as he appeared in a video feed Wednesday for a bond hearing in Lake County court.
The suspect in the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Ill., was expressionless. His black hair was in a short bob. His neck was covered in tattoos and one tattoo was visible under his right eye. His eyes darted during the proceedings, and he sometimes stared down.
As the names of the deceased shooting victims were read, Crimo had no reaction.
Seventh slain victim identified as 69-year-old man from Waukegan, Ill.
Authorities released the identity of the seventh victim in this week’s massacre in Highland Park, Ill.
Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, of Waukegan, Ill., died of injuries he suffered in the mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade Monday, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said Wednesday.
Uvaldo had been on a ventilator, according to a GoFundMe update from a family member but was later taken off. He died Wednesday morning, the examiner’s office told The Post.
“He was pronounced dead today at 7:47 a.m. at Evanston Hospital,” spokeswoman Natalia Derevyanny said in a statement. “An autopsy will be performed in the coming days.”
On Tuesday, police had said a seventh victim, whose name they did not release, had died at a hospital in Cook County.
Nivia Guzman, Uvaldo’s granddaughter, wrote on the GoFundMe fundraiser that the family attends the Fourth of July parade each year “filled with happiness and laughter.” But this week’s parade turned to horror when someone started shooting at parade attendees, including Guzman’s brother and grandparents.
“Unfortunately my grandpa got shot in the arm, then in the back of the head,” Guzman wrote. She added, “My grandpa is a kind, loving, and funny man who did not deserve this.”
‘Many more charges’ will be filed against suspect, state attorney says
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said Wednesday that “many, many more charges” are expected to be filed against the man accused of killing seven people and injuring more than 30 during Monday’s Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill.
Authorities had already announced that Robert E. Crimo III, 21, was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder in an attack that police say Crimo planned for weeks and carried out with a legally purchased military-style weapon. But Rinehart said at a news conference that additional charges are likely to be filed to account for “other people [who] were attempted-to-be-murdered people who were not shot” during the massacre in the Chicago suburb.
“Every time he fires a bullet at an individual, he is committing aggravated discharge of a weapon, whether he hits someone or not,” Rinehart said. “There will be many, many more charges coming in the coming weeks.”
The state’s attorney did not say exactly when the charges would be filed but said he expected “all of those charges being presented at one time in late July.”
Shooting suspect confessed to police, prosecutor says, and was denied bond
Robert Crimo III will be held in jail without bond because he poses a threat to the community, Judge Theodore S. Potkonjak ruled Wednesday during the suspect’s first appearance in court since he allegedly opened fire at a crowd in Highland Park, killing seven and injuring dozens.
During the hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon said that investigators reviewed surveillance footage and cellphone videos from parade attendees that showed Crimo using a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 semiautomatic rifle, which investigators say he obtained at a local gun store in 2020.
After officers recognized him from the surveillance footage, Crimo was taken into custody at about 6:25 p.m. and confessed to Highland Park police, Dillon said. He told investigators that he had dressed like a woman and covered his tattoos with makeup “because people would recognize him.”
Dillon added that the suspect confessed that he had fired three full 30-round magazines at the crowd. Investigators found the three magazines and 83 spent shell casings on the roof from where he opened fire.
Defense attorney Thomas Durkin said that he was forced to recuse himself after learning that he has a personal conflict of interest in the case and could not represent Crimo.
Lake County Public Defender Gregory Ticsay appeared to be representing the suspect.