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Highland Park gunman’s rooftop position made it difficult for officers to find him quickly as parade turned into chaos, police chief says

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Highland Park, Illinois
CNN

The shooter’s location from the July 4 parade — hidden on a rooftop along Central Avenue in Highland Park — made it difficult for law enforcement officers to immediately identify where the bullets were raining when he opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle, the police said. Illinois City Police Chief Thursday.

“The sound bounced off the buildings. People pointed in different directions,” Chief Lou Jogmen told CNN of the scene of fear and chaos that left seven people dead and dozens injured in another mass shooting across America.

In the panicked aftermath, authorities spent nearly eight hours hunting the gunman, fearing he would resume his killing spree, Jogmen said as he provided new details about the massacre and what followed.

“Was it a break, was it a break?” Jogmen said, citing questions faced by authorities during the frantic search. “Does this person intend to continue until he ends his life? Is this a person who was looking for an escape?”

Robert E. Crimo III was taken into police custody at a traffic stop the same day after being tipped off by what they describe as “an alert member of the community.” He was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, and more charges are expected, prosecutors said. He is being held without a bond.

In a voluntary statement, Crimo admitted to authorities that he emptied two 30-round magazines before loading his weapon with a third and firing again, Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon said during a virtual bail hearing on Wednesday.

If convicted, Crimo faces a life sentence.

Meanwhile, the motive remains unclear four days later.

“That’s the first thing people want to know,” Jogmen said. ‘Right now I don’t think I can give you a why based on what I hear from my researchers. … We’d like to have that reason so people can digest it, but I’m not sure we’re there yet.”

As investigators try to determine what led to the shooting, the Highland community continues to mourn those killed and injured in the attack.

Among the injured is an 8-year-old boy who is paralyzed from the waist down after surgery in recent days.

Cooper Roberts attended the parade with his mother Keely and his twin brother Luke, who were also injured in the shooting, family spokesman Anthony Loizzi said at a news conference Thursday.

Cooper was shot in the chest and his spinal cord was severed, Loizzi said. He was heavily sedated Thursday and was placed on a ventilator in critical but stable condition after undergoing surgery to close his abdominal area.

“It’s going to be a new normal for him to move forward,” Loizzi said. “It sounds (like) he will have big trouble getting ahead, especially with walking.”

Luke was injured by shrapnel and was released from hospital after treatment. Keely Roberts also underwent several surgeries after being shot in the leg and around the foot, Loizzi said.

Meanwhile, a married couple injured in the shooting were reunited in hospital after the woman was taken out of surgery, said Samantha Whitehead, a friend close to the family.

Stephen Kolpack was shot in the leg and released, while his wife Zoe suffered a crushed femur, Whitehead said.

“It was just pure joy, like you could just feel the love,” Whitehead told CNN. “I think you could feel the relief from both of them that… they’re going to be okay. Their children will be fine. They are just very grateful. It’s like the best-case scenario out of a horrible, horrible situation.”

Whitehead, who described herself as Zoe’s best friend, has set up a GoFundMe to help cover the family’s medical expenses.

Those who did not survive include Irina and Kevin McCarthy, aged 35 and 37 respectively, who were parents to a 2-year-old boy who was found alive at the scene of the shooting.

The other victims killed were Katherine Goldstein, 64, of Highland Park; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63, of Highland Park; Stephen Straus, 88, of Highland Park; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, of Morelos, Mexico, and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, of Waukegan.

In April 2019, Highland Park police received a call that Crimo had attempted to take his own life with a machete, and mental health professionals have been addressing the matter, a police report documenting the incident.

A few months later, in September 2019, a relative reported that Crimo threatened relatives that he would “kill everyone” and had a collection of magazine-covered items in his closet, according to another police report. Police confiscated the collection and the suspect’s father, Bobby Crimo Jr., picked him up at the police station later that day.

After that second report, the Highland Park Police Department filed a “clear and present danger” about what happened to the Illinois State Police, the police report said.

No arrests were made in that incident as there were no signed complaints against Crimo. Relatives were unwilling to file additional complaints, state police said.

Since those incidents, Crimo has passed four background checks when buying firearms between June 2020 and September 2021, including checks from the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System, state police said.

He legally purchased five firearms, including rifles, pistols and possibly a shotgun, according to Lake County Major Crime Task Force Deputy Chief Chris Covelli.

Crimo’s application for a firearms owner’s ID, or FOID, was sponsored by his father because his son was under 21. It was not rejected because at the time there was “inadequate basis to establish a clear and present danger,” the state police said.

There is no criminal liability for sponsoring anyone’s FOID, Lake County State attorney Eric Rinehart told CNN on Thursday, adding that the office is still going through evidence “in terms of who knew what and when.”

“There are several ways to look at potential criminal liability in this case,” Rinehart said. “There’s not necessarily a violation of the law if you vouch for someone on a FOID card and they end up doing something so horrible. But having said that, we will continue to look into the matter and continue to explore all options.”

CNN’s calls to Crimo Jr. have not been answered. His attorney, Steve Greenberg, told CNN they would not make any further public comments, “but the parents will continue to talk to law enforcement and help them.”

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