HIGHLAND PARK, Illinois — An Illinois man who police say for weeks planned the mass shooting at a July 4 parade has been charged with seven first-degree murders during the killing spree, officials said Tuesday night.
Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, will face additional charges in the Highland Park shooting that killed seven and injured dozens of others, Illinois officials said.
Officials on Tuesday identified six of the seven people killed as Katherine Goldstein, 64; Irina McCarthy, 35; Kevin McCarthy, 37; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; Stephen Straus, 88; and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78.
Lake County state attorney Eric Rinehart called Monday’s attack a “premeditated and calculated attack” and said the additional charges will likely include attempted murder and aggravated battery.
Crimo, who police picked up hours after the disaster, climbed a fire escape to turn himself into a sniper’s nest to fire at parade-goers below, authorities said.
He had planned the attack for weeks — and dressed as a woman to avoid detection, authorities said Tuesday.
“But we do believe that Crimo planned this attack several weeks in advance,” said Chris Covelli, the spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.
An image of Crimo, obtained by NBC Chicago from a senior law enforcement official, appeared to show the man in a blue-and-white blouse with longer hair.
“During the attack, Crimo was dressed in women’s clothing, and investigators believe he did this to hide his facial tattoos, identity and aid him in the escape,” Covelli said.
The plan initially seemed to work, as Crimo allegedly walked undetected to his mother’s house, borrowed her car, and drove out of town.
“After the attack, Crimo left the roof, dropped his rifle and went into the crowd and he escaped,” Covelli said.
“He was totally absorbed in everyone else as they ran around, almost as if he were an innocent bystander too.”
Investigators have pieced together Crimo’s movements, based largely on video recorded Monday in downtown Highland Park, authorities said.
“He was seen on a video camera in the women’s clothing. The video camera played a tremendous role in how we could identify him, both on departure and on departure,” Covelli said.
The sniper fired more than 70 rounds from his perch on the roof, randomly picking victims below, officials said.
Covelli said there was no direct evidence that the gunman had been targeted by victims based on race or religion.
Covelli said authorities were in contact with Crimo twice in 2019. The first was in April 2019, after law enforcement followed up on a reported suicide attempt, which Covelli said had been handled by a mental health professional.
In the second incident, police responded to a call in September 2019 after a family member reported that Crimo had threatened to kill relatives in his home. Several knives were seized, as well as a sword and dagger, but he had no firearms at the time, Covelli said.
Authorities said Crimo had at least five firearms on Monday, including rifles and pistols, which were seized from his father’s home on a search warrant.
When asked whether the so-called red flag laws should have prevented Crimo from possessing guns, Covelli was unable to provide a definitive answer.
“At the time, there was no information that he possessed any firearms or rifles,” Covelli said. “Would that be enough if he made threats? It is a matter of case by case. I don’t want to talk broadly about the matter. It depends on the circumstances.’
Highland Park is known as a heavily Jewish suburb, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Israeli newspaper Haaretz† Both noted that by some estimates, the area’s Jewish population is about a third of the total estimated population of 30,100†
“At the moment we have not developed a motive for him,” Covelli said.
“The shooting appears to be completely random. We have no information at this time to suggest that it was racially motivated, motivated by religion or [hatred of] any other protected status.”
The weapon was legally purchased in Illinois, officials said. Covelli described it as “similar to an AR-15.”
“He brought a high-powered rifle to this parade, he entered the roof of a business through a fire escape and started opening fire on the innocent revelers on Independence Day,” Covelli said.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said Tuesday she knew Crimo when he was with the Cub Scouts years ago.
She said on “TODAY” that she is stunned that anyone could unleash such violence.
“I know him as someone who was a cub scout when I was the cub leader,” she said.
“And it’s one of those things where you step back and say, ‘What happened? How did someone get so angry, so hateful, and then take it out on innocent people who were, literally, just having a family day out?’”
When asked about her memories of Crimo, Rotering succinctly replied, “He was just a little boy.”
In other developments:
- Rotering denied Tuesday how the high-powered weapon used in the murders could have been legally purchased: “I don’t know where the gun came from, but I do know it was legally obtained. And I think at some point this country needs to have a conversation about these weekly events where dozens of people have been killed with legally acquired weapons. If that’s what our laws stand for, I think we need to rethink the laws.”
- The number of injured is at 47†
- police were quiet asking people to get out of the center Highland Park on Tuesday as investigators continue to gather evidence.
- More and more details about the victims are coming.
- sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Tuesday the shooting marked the rise of a new, violent American tradition, tell MSNBC“Unfortunately, what happened here yesterday was the clash of two traditions: a wonderful tradition, of July 4 parades, and another terrible emerging tradition of mass shootings.” The Highland Park massacre follows mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.
This is a story in development. Refresh here for updates.
Antonio Planas and Phil Rogers reported from Highland Park, Illinois; Marlene Lenthang and David K. Li of New York City; and Ava Kelley from Chicago.